AIM-PROGRESS membership meeting in NYC

Colgate-Palmolive hosted the November membership meeting of AIM-PROGRESS in New York City on 3-4 November which gathered 50 participants from 30 companies to further develop member capabilities in responsible sourcing, to progress the ambitious strategy to "positively impact people's lives" and to engage with relevant stakeholders. Colgate kicked off the meeting with a presentation by Lori MIchelin,Vice-President Gobal Sustainabiliy & EOHS on their ambitious sustainability program which comprises some challenging targets.

Oxfam America encouraged the branded goods sector to drive responsible sourcing throughout their supply chains to reach corporate sustainability targets. Their Behind the Brands Campaign has triggered noteworthy improvements to companies' efforts in this field, and they will continue their dialogue with brands.

The Sustainable Food Laboratory shared their work on how to measure performance improvement with smallholders and encouraged food companies to contribute to establishing a measurement framework aimed at identifying what impact responsible sourcing programs actually have on the ground.

Discussions focused on how companies are now extending their responsible sourcing requirements for suppliers from simple legal compliance to encompassing internationally recognised principles, such as the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, or stakeholder and societal expectations, such as protection of land rights for indigenous peoples. The bar on CSR engagement by leading branded goods companies is moving upwards; if AIM-PROGRESS members want to remain in a position to mutually recognise each others' social and ethical audits, this trend needs to be followed by a collective effort to do the same. At the same time companies need to continue their focus on closing out non-compliances to the law at supplier level. A recently released top-tips document, as well as a workshop held during the meeing, provide(d) helpful practical advice to members.

The question was debated on what members can do together to drive continuous improvement and effect positive impact on the ground at tier 2 and 3 supplier level through their responsible sourcing programs. One of the main interest areas to emerge from the discussion was how to carry out supply chain mapping to "origins" of major commonly sourced commodities.

The meeting also reviewed progress made and future plans by the work streams of the organisation: business integrity, mutual recognition, supplier capability building and environment.

The 2015 meetings will be hosted by PepsiCo, General Mills and Givaudan, alternating between Europe and the US.