Working with suppliers
Making our standards their standards
We work with our suppliers to help them meet our ethical, health and safety, social and environmental standards and improve their performance through monitoring, assessments and improvement activities.
It matters to us where our products come from. We know it matters to our customers as well. We want to know how they are made and whether the companies we do business with share our commitment to respect the environment and treat employees fairly. We work closely with our suppliers to maintain a reliable and high-quality supply of goods and services. How they do business and how it affects our reputation is always taken into consideration.
How we maintain standards
Setting the standard
Our Code of Ethical Purchasing (CEP) sets out what we expect of our suppliers.
We don’t tolerate corruption and we don’t work with suppliers who treat their workers badly or fail to protect the environment. Suppliers are assessed against a number of different criteria including sustainability, corporate responsibility, quality management and environmental standards.
When we created the CEP we were guided by the standards established by the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Labour Organization. Any new supplier has to sign up to our CEP.
If a supplier isn’t meeting our standards, we work with them to try to help them improve. If they still don’t make progress, or if what they are doing is a serious breach of our code, we’ll stop using that supplier.
Training our procurement team
We’ve developed online training and briefing packs for our procurement teams to help them understand why high supply chain standards are important and how they can put our code into practice. All our supply chain employees undertake the training, which covers health and safety, anti-bribery and business continuity.
Targets for responsible supply chain management are built into performance development objectives for our procurement teams. This provides a financial incentive to maintain high standards.
Vodafone UK uses around 1,000 suppliers, big and small. Many contracts apply across Vodafone companies around the world and the largest ones are negotiated and monitored by Vodafone Group on behalf of all its operating companies. These global suppliers are assessed every six months to identify areas for improvement. Health and safety and sustainability form two key pillars of our evaluation of suppliers’ performance, alongside others such as delivery, quality and technology. You can find out more about Vodafone Group supply chain initiatives on its sustainability website
The Prompt Payment Code
We are working towards full compliance with the Prompt Payment Code. The code is administered by the Institute of Credit Management (ICM) on behalf of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). It encourages signatories to commit to paying suppliers within clearly defined terms.
They undertake to:
- Pay suppliers on time
- Within the terms agreed at the outset of the contract
- Without attempting to change payment terms retrospectively
- Without changing practice on length of payment for smaller companies on unreasonable grounds
- Give clear guidance to suppliers
- Providing suppliers with clear and easily accessible guidance on payments procedures
- Ensuring there is a system for dealing with complaints and disputes which is communicated to suppliers
- Advising them promptly if there’s any reason why an invoice will not be paid to agreed terms
- Encourage good practice by requesting that lead suppliers encourage adoption of the code throughout their own supply chains
Ethics and a duty to report
Our suppliers can rely on our group-wide Duty to Report policy, which encourages them (and our employees and contractors) to report any dishonest, corrupt or illegal behaviour. We’ll make sure that anyone who raises a concern can stay anonymous if they want to. Anything reported to us is investigated by our Group Fraud Risk and Security team.
We’re working with the suppliers who make our handsets, devices and network equipment to cut the carbon footprint of our products and services. Find out more in our Sustainability report
Conflict minerals come from mines that directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups in conflict regions, generally the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They include columbite-tantalite (coltan), cassiterite, wolframite and gold. They are refined to produce metals used to make electronic components – tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold, respectively (often referred to collectively as 3TG).
Several of the numerous components in the mobile phones, SIM cards and other electronic devices that Vodafone sells contain one or more of the 3TG metals, which may come from many different sources. Both the refineries and the mines from which the minerals are originally sourced are several steps away from Vodafone in the supply chain. Vodafone does not manufacture any products itself and does not purchase 3TG metals directly.
However, we do work with suppliers to ensure that conflict minerals originating in the DRC or adjoining countries do not end up in the products we sell or the electronic equipment that we buy and use in our own operations.