Ethical Performance
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M&S boosts supply chain monitoring through Labor Link

British high street stalwart Marks & Spencer (M&S) has scaled up its use of mobile technology in the supply chain to poll 64,230 workers across 46 manufacturing locations in 5 countries (China, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the UK) – exceeding its target, set a year ago, of 22,500 workers in 30 factories by more than double.

“Listening to workers in this way helps us connect the dots between quality of life issues like workplace health and safety and business issues in manufacturing, such as worker retention and productivity,” commented Fiona Sadler, M&S's head of ethical trading.

It is the first time M&S workers in these specific countries have had an anonymous channel to report on sensitive issues like working hours, and communication with their supervisors. With more detailed data, M&S says it is able to go beyond auditing to engage in a new kind of conversation with suppliers.

““With 44% of workers choosing to participate, M&S surveys are at the upper end of our average Labor Link response rate of 30-40%, and we see a higher degree of trust and scalability in anonymous mobile surveys, compared to more traditional methods of connecting with workers through interviews,” said Heather Franzese, executive director of the organization behind the Labor Link platform.

Labor Link is able to reach workers with different technology preferences, and manufacturing almost any product type. In Bangladesh, workers use basic feature phones and can access pre-recorded questions to address low literacy rates. In China, Labor Link is available through a WeChat application for workers with smartphones, giving workers the option to use the technology they prefer.

M&S intends to use the data gathered to develop training programs on Workplace Communications and align the company’s business practices with worker needs.


  • In other news, M&S is installing the UK’s largest single roof mounted solar panel array on its East Midlands distribution centre in Castle Donington.The project, which is expected to be completed in early 2015, is being worked on in partnership with Amber Infrastructure. The solar PV system will span the site’s 900,000 sq ft roof and will generate over 5,000 MWh of electricity per year, enough to power 1,190 houses. The 24,272 PV panel structure will lower M&S’s carbon footprint by 48,000 tonnes over 20 years. The energy generated will be enough to make the fully automated distribution centre, which is big enough to hold 11 football pitches, close to self-sufficient during daylight hours.

Labor Link | Global | supply chain


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