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Social Benefits on a Global Scale

This article was written by Tony Prophet, Senior Vice President Operations at Hewlett-Packard.

 

HP products are made around the world, from Russia to Australia and from India to Brazil. We also have significant manufacturing operations in Asia, including China, Japan and Singapore. And yes . . . HP products are also made in the USA including Indianapolis and Houston.

 

Some of these operations are our own, but we also rely on manufacturing partners. HP has long embraced our responsibility to help improve the electronic industry’s social and environmental performance, specifically;

  • In 2003 HP developed a code of conduct for our suppliers, a first in our industry

  • We have conducted over 850 on-site supplier audits and published the results annually since 2005

  • We complement our auditing with collaborative capability building initiatives. HP has implemented 19 programs in 9 countries addressing a range of social and environmental issues including the prevention of discrimination, encouraging energy efficiency, and improving labor rights and women’s health awareness.

  • We have also targeted our efforts at addressing concerns about high risk worker segments including student workers in China and migrant workers in South East Asia.

 

Our programs are having an impact. For example, suppliers participating in our women’s health program and labor rights training are showing greater improvements in their audit scores and our supplier energy efficiency partnership has identified 25 million kwh of energy savings.

 

We have always believed that transparency is important. We have published our global citizenship report since 2001, with a focus on supply chain responsibility since 2003. We were the first electronics company to publish our list of suppliers in 2008 and have done so annually since. We were also the first company in our industry to publish our suppliers’ greenhouse gas emissions. 

 

We have been open and public with our efforts. As a founding and current board member of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition we have led across our industry. Through our own programs, and as founding members of the Sustainable Trade Initiative for electronics, we have engaged NGOs and other stakeholders for their expertise in improving working conditions. And as an executive board member of the Global Social Compliance Programme we have contributed to driving responsible supply chains beyond our own sector.   We believe our actions can have an impact across the industry.

 

For example, in China, we recognized the high proportion of young migratory workers in the electronics industry was a driver of labor challenges in the coastal regions. In 2009, we began a journey to move some HP production inland in China, closer to the homes of these migratory workers.  We strove to build large scale world-class facilities in Chongqing, setting a new standard for working and living conditions.

 

To the industry, HP’s move to Western China was not initially intuitive. Limited transportation infrastructure and long distances from our supply network meant production costs were initially higher. But we stayed the course, and soon our manufacturing partners and many component suppliers followed. Today we are putting our products on trains from Western China, not people.

 

Our extensive audits show our operations are clearly not perfect.  Nonetheless, our objective is to build our products in operations where the working and living conditions lead the industry forward. We are committed to being a force for good in our industry wherever we operate around the world.

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