May 17, 2020

RTW research shows worker engagement is key to reputation

Supply Chain Digital
Supply Chain
supply chain news
Freddie Pierce
2 min
Engage your workers
The study, conducted by Responsible Trade Worldwide (RTW) amongst 1700 plus employees in retail global supply chains, revealed that on average 5.6 work...

The study, conducted by Responsible Trade Worldwide (RTW) amongst 1700 plus employees in retail global supply chains, revealed that  on average 5.6 working days – or over a week – is lost for each employee per annum due to unauthorised absence, which is time off over and beyond legitimate reasons for being absent from work such as sick leave, holiday and maternity leave. This equates to 9,520 working days across the respondents.

Often such absence will occur due to personal issues such as family difficulties and, as such, it will always need to be managed by employers. However, according to Responsible Trade Worldwide  such high levels of unauthorised absence, as revealed in the study, should be a red flag for retailers when assessing their suppliers as it can often indicate poor working conditions, low worker satisfaction, lack of job security, insufficient training, and low pay, amongst other issues. The RTW study also showed that suppliers are ‘passing on’ an average cost of £42,000 per 100 employees with respect to unauthorised absence alone. More broadly, national statistics for the UK show that this issue costs the UK economy £10-12bn per annum.

Another key finding of the research revealed that there was 34% labour turnover amongst those interviewed, which could also create additional risk in the supply chain.

Rebecca Taylor, who led the research at Responsible Trade Worldwide, said: “Ethical trade is currently firmly on the retail supply chain management agenda following the tragedy at the textile factory  in Bangladesh.This in turn has led to an increase in demand for transparency and clarity into the working practices of the suppliers that produce consumer goods, and their journey through often convoluted global supply chains.

“Our research shows that it is critical that retailers know about operational standards from the perspective of workers across the supply chain and this requires a shift from a compliance-based approach to one which embraces greater engagement with suppliers and workers. Retailers need to get to grips with working hours, wages, company culture, environmental policies and community engagement activities of their trading partners. This will provide a more complete view of a supplier and in turn will highlight areas of risk, and inform the business case for change.”

She added: “Not only is unauthorised absence generating a direct cost in the supply chain, which is passed upstream, it does not take into account the cost of potentially irretrievable damage to  a company’s brand reputation if it significantly heightens risks in the supply chain.”

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Jun 8, 2021

DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID

3 min
Global logistics leader DHL’s new white paper highlights what supply chain professionals have learned one year into the pandemic

Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.


This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go. 


Public-Private Partnerships

With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”. 


Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats. 


In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.


“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”. 


How Do We Sustain Immunisation? 

By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”. 


Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared. 

Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.

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