We are skeptical about zero-tolerance policies. “Zero tolerance” generally implies “zero discretion” and “zero use of judgment.” We are also wary of unintended consequences. Banning ‘conflict minerals’ can have such unintended consequences. If you “cleanse” your supply chain by refusing to source minerals from conflict-ridden country A, in favour of peaceful country B, you may find that minerals from A are now being smuggled into B and into B’s resource base — and by not being “involved” in A, you’ve now lost the ability to exercise oversight over things like labour conditions, environmental standards, and so on. The devil is in those details.
On the other hand, the company is probably doing a good thing, and the best it reasonably can.
“Without owning the mines ourselves we can’t be sure 100%, all the time, every day, but if we waited for that we’d never be sourcing from the region at all, and that’s not what our intent was,” says Duran. “We want to maintain a presence in the region, source responsibly, and help the people on the ground.”
LINK: In 2016, Intel’s Entire Supply Chain Will Be Conflict-Free (by Adele Peters for FastCoExist)
Seven years ago, if you bought a new iPhone or a laptop, you were probably also inadvertently supporting warlords and mass rapists in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country has some of the world’s largest deposits of many of the tiny bits of metal, like tin and tungsten, that make up electronics, and they often came from mines whose profits were used to fund the country’s ongoing, devastating civil war. Luckily, that’s starting to change.
This year, Intel expects its entire supply chain to be conflict-free. It’s taken time: the company first set the goal in 2009, and with a massive list of suppliers, it was an overwhelming challenge at first. “We said, we don’t want to support conflict, period….”
What do you think?