Frequently Asked Questions
These are the questions that we get all the time from our visitors. If there is something else that you need to know, get in touch with us.
For purchasers and suppliers:
What is responsible supply chain management?
Responsible supply chain management –or RSCM– means minimising the adverse impacts of both a company’s internal operations and its wider supply chain. Why do it? Because businesses can contribute massively to economic, environmental and social progress when they perceive their wider supply chain as an extension of their workforce and they set best practices across their supply chain.
Because supply chain sustainability is a cross-cutting issue, companies need to apply their work across areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, ensuring a high level of traceability and that the responsibility of all parties involved is engaged.
For more information on responsible business conduct, we recommend the following resources:
- OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct.
- United Nations Global Compact’s e-Library
- United Nations Global Compact Sustainable Supply Chains’ Resource Area
Why should I adopt a responsible supply chain management practice?
Most companies already have internal processes that meet strict mandatory regulations towards labour rights, anti-corruption and environment. Good examples of such processes are employment contracts or compulsory policies on occupational health and safety. However, beyond these compulsory policies, there is still an expectation that businesses must act responsibly; part of this responsibility is making sure that all businesses within one’s supply chain act equally responsible.
Years ago, corporate social responsibility was used as a mechanism to ‘name and shame’ those companies that are not good corporate citizens. We have now moved to a ‘knowing and showing’ approach that is based on collaboration, mutual understanding and learning. Today, companies partner with their suppliers and understand that only by working together can they work towards more than just legal compliance and ensure proactive contribution.
A business that manages its supply chain responsibly meets international expectations on human rights, labour, anti-corruption and environment, easily identifies areas of saving costs and efficiencies, minimises risks internally and externally, and creates a stronger reputation for itself, while also building better relationships with suppliers and external stakeholders.
This is where IMPA ACT fits in, as it offers a management system that is tailored for the shipping industry and that helps companies adopt responsible supply chain management practices easier and at a much lower cost. IMPA ACT is based on standardised tools, such as the IMPA ACT Supplier Code of Conduct, which add uniformity to the marine procurement industry and streamline work practices.
How much extra work is the IMPA ACT process going to cause me?
Firstly, your company needs to understand that adopting a responsible approach to managing its supply chain is a commitment that needs both time and resources; it is certainly not something that happens overnight.
That being said, IMPA ACT is extremely practical and provides step-by-step guidance to members on how to adopt a responsible supply chain management practice. We also provide a vast array of resources that come to your support; these can range from knowledge resources that allow you to familiarise yourself with sustainability issues, all the way to tools, calculators and draft content to use on your sustainability journey.
Does becoming engaged in IMPA ACT mean that I will have to audit my suppliers yearly?
No, as IMPA ACT tries to take the focus away from the ‘check-box’ system of auditing. While the programme does indeed culminate in an audit of your suppliers in order for them to be included in our database of sustainable maritime suppliers and to be recognised for their hard work, what will come later will be a simple exchange of yearly progress reports and best practices.
Do I have to stop engaging with a supplier if I find out that they have issues with their social and environmental compliance?
No, IMPA ACT is not prescriptive in nature and will not tell you what to do; this is a decision that your company must ultimately make. However, the IMPA ACT system will provide you with a structure to identify blips on your company’s radar and you should be aware that refusing to identify potential impacts means that your company will be navigating blindly.
It is naturally expected that all companies will have some adverse impacts on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption principles, and it is understandable that both time and resources have to be allocated in the process of driving social change. What is important here is that you, as a company, are able to clearly communicate to your stakeholders, and know and show that you are working to improve your track record.
Is it feasible for a supplier to engage on an individual basis with the IMPA ACT initiative?
As a marine supplier, you have three choices of joining IMPA ACT: (1) as a supplier member together with a purchaser member, (2) as a supplier member acting individually or (3) as a supporting supplier.
All three options come with the same objective, that is becoming compliant with the IMPA ACT Supplier Code of Conduct and aligning your business practice with internationally-endorsed principles on sustainability. We consider this objective to be a SMART one (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely), regardless of the way in which you join us.
While we consider the objective easier to reach by means of partnership, as you would be exchanging best practice at all times with your partnered customer and be able to benefit of their support in the implementation phase, doing the work by yourself is entirely feasible; it will just take a bit more time and resources. Additionally, as a supplier member you would also benefit from the IMPA ACT Knowledge Centre and step-by-step guidance in implementing the necessary systems and procedures in order to ensure compliance, which is meant to streamline your journey and make it less onerous. Unfortunately, strictly as a supporter, you would not get these resources and guidance other than the Supplier Code of Conduct and the knowledge resources that we make available to the public.
You too can become a sustainability front-runner.