The ETI Secretariat is pleased to announce the launch of ETI’s new online platform, Perspective. The Perspective platform is the first concrete outcome of the Accountability pillar of our 2020 Strategy and is the result of an 18 months project involving many different stakeholders. David Bezagu, our Senior Advisor, Accountability, explains its importance.
Perspective enables company members to report to ETI about their ethical trade activities (one of the characteristics of ETI membership) online, using our revised reporting framework.
Previously, companies had to complete detailed offline questionnaires.
Beyond the swap to online reporting, Perspective will also give corporate members access to new insights through data analytics and other functionalities, with the aim of driving further change in companies’ practices.
Perspective was developed in collaboration with Reason Digital, a digital agency working with charities, social enterprises and companies on pro-social digital projects and was progressed in parallel to the revision of our reporting framework.
The development process
At the core of Perspective is ETI’s revised reporting framework.
The revision of our framework started in April last year and followed an extensive consultation and development process.
More than 50 ETI members participated in the consultation, in the form of interviews, workshops, email feedback and a pilot.
Every type of ETI member has been involved. From companies of different sizes and across different industries to trade unions and NGOs, ensuring a rich and balanced process.
Several leading external organisations also contributed early on in the project.
Importantly, this project also built on the expertise of the different units of ETI Secretariat and under the supervision of a tripartite advisory group[i], which has been a key stakeholder in this process.
How will ETI members benefit from using Perspective
The framework reflects the state of the art in ethical trade and ETI company members will benefit from the work we have done in two ways:
- The revised framework will not only enable companies to report on their ethical trade activities but will also guide them on the key aspects of ethical trade.
- Transferring ETI reporting from an offline exercise to an online platform will facilitate interactions between all the stakeholders involved in the reporting process.
Specifically, companies will be able to Identify salient issues in their supply chain, define an appropriate strategy and embed necessary day-to-day ethical trade practices.
The UNGPs and ETI Due Diligence framework have been our key points of reference in this revision, alongside other frameworks such as OECD’s Due Diligence Guidance, the UNGP Reporting Framework and the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark. It also builds on the diverse expertise of our members, of various researchers and on our own experience working with ethical trade, procurement and senior management teams.
From our conversations with members, we know that the current shift from compliance-based appraoches to due diligence approaches isn’t straightforward for many organisations.
As one company member participating in the pilot put it, due diligence requires a “change of mindset”, moving from a “black or white” perspective to a more “grey” approach, involving judgement from the companies and prioritisation on difficult issues.
The reporting framework is just one tool in the toolbox to facilitate this shift but we hope that combined with the feedback companies receive after each report, it will provide practical and useful guidance.
The Perspective platform itself, will offer ETI and its members new capacities in terms of leveraging the data collected. Some of these topics will be addressed in new workstreams highlighted below.
Building on good foundations
ETI’s initial focus has been on facilitating the transition from the old reporting framework to the revised one while providing our members with training, regular communication and clear guidance materials.
Beyond this transition phase, we will continue to work on various workstreams under the Accountability pillar, building on the work already done. Examples of topics we want to address are:
- Revising our feedback process, making sure we can continue to deliver useful feedback to companies once they have submitted their report and improving the interactions between companies and their trade unions, NGOs and Secretariat reviewers.
- Developing new functionalities on Perspective, of which a data analytics functionality enabling members to benchmark themselves and a functionality enabling members to more easily reuse ETI data for other reporting obligations
- Clarifying ETI’s approach to the transparency agenda. With better collection of data comes a responsibility to clarify how this data will be shared within the membership, taking into account necessary confidentiality requirements.
The transparency workstream will also explore how ETI and our members can become more transparent in the public domain, recognising the strong momentum behind this issue.
Our first two deliverables on transparency, ETI’s direction of travel on transparency and a business case for greater transparency, will be released in the coming weeks.
Improving understanding of labour rights
The development of Perspective and of the revised reporting framework represents a key achievement for ETI Secretariat and its members.
Having a better understanding of what companies are doing to concretely address labour rights issues in their supply chain, is necessary and legitimate.
We are also confident that the value provided by these new tools will go beyond that and will help ETI members further improve their ethical trade practices.
The image is courtesy of Shutterstock and is for representational purposes only. It is not an image of Perspective.
[i] Current members of the tripartite advisory group are H&M, John Lewis Partnership, Winfresh, ITUC, TUC, Oxfam and CAFOD. ETI Secretariat would also like to thank previous members of the group who have contributed their time into this project, BBC Worldwide and Quaker.