Sustainability

Social(S)

Responsible Supply Chain

Sustainability

  • 8 DECENT WORK AND ECONOMIC GROWTH
  • 12 RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

Promoting CSR Procurement with Suppliers

The Brother Group publishes its "Procurement Policy" and "CSR Procurement Standards"

The Brother Group makes its "Procurement Policy" and "CSR Procurement Standards" publicly available to share its CSR procurement concept with parts and materials suppliers. The policy and standards cover a wide range of fields, including human rights and labor, the rights to organize and bargain collectively, safety and health, global environmental protection, fair trade and ethics, product quality and safety, raw materials, information security, and social contribution. The Brother Group complies with local laws and regulations and supports workers' collective bargaining rights by conducting collective negotiations and respecting communication between management and employees on working conditions and management practices. In addition, in January 2019, the Group joined the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) to better correct and assess risks such as human rights and labor, safety and health, the reduction of environment impacts in its supply chain.
We request that suppliers regularly cooperate by partaking in our CSR questionnaire, a questionnaire survey on slave (forced) labor with the goal of preventing forced labor, and a conflict minerals survey to confirm whether a supplier is using minerals that are mined by smelters in war zones and are confirming whether this is being reflected in our shared "Procurement Policy" and "CSR Procurement Standards." In addition, we explain the CSR Procurement Standards, and at the same time we are asking suppliers to sign a consent form that confirms their intent to comply with the standards.

The Brother Group remains committed to promoting CSR procurement together with its suppliers.

Procurement Policy/CSR Procurement Standards

Procurement policy

  • The Brother Group acts fairly with all suppliers.
  • The Brother Group respects the rules and spirit of laws in all countries and regions where we operate, and builds strong, respectful working relationships with suppliers for mutual growth.
  • The Brother Group promotes environmentally friendly "green procurement," and reduces impact on the environment through the lifecycle of its products.
  • The Brother Group places our customers first everywhere, every time, while remaining committed to delivering high quality products and services at reasonable costs.
  • The Brother Group considers issues concerning conflict minerals* as very important matters, and will take proactive approaches toward responsible procurement of minerals.
  • Conflict minerals are minerals unrightfully mined in a conflict zone. Trading of conflict minerals helps finance armed groups and results in human right violations, labor maltreatment, environmental destructions, etc. in the areas, which has been plagued by regional conflict.

CSR procurement standards

The Brother Group procures products and services from business partners that adhere to the following guidelines:

Labor

  • Respect for Human Rights and Prohibition of Discrimination
    Respect fundamental human rights of all people, and do not discriminate by race, nationality, gender, religion or creed.
  • Prohibition of Child Labor and Forced Labor
    Do not enforce unfair labor practices and illegal labor of children at any production stage.
  • Appropriate Management of Working Conditions and Prevention of Overwork
    Appropriately manage employees' working conditions including working hours in accordance with local labor laws and regulations, and prevent overwork with consideration for employees' health such as by providing adequate rest days.
  • Guarantee of Minimum Wage
    Pay wages higher than the legal minimum in accordance with local labor laws and regulations, and do not reduce wages unfairly.
  • Guarantee of Freedom of Association and Support for Collective Bargaining Rights
    Respect the rights of employees to associate freely with others and join or not join the association as a means to facilitate consultation between labor and management over working conditions, working environment, wage levels, etc. In addition, support collective bargaining rights and hold sincere consultations and discussions with employees.

Safety and Health

  • Health and Safety Conscious working Environment
    Ensure the safety and health of employees and act to create a comfortable working environment.

Environment

  • Environmental Consciousness
    Take proactive measures to protect the global environment. Comply with the Environmental Supplier Guideline.

Ethics

  • Legal Compliance
    Respect the rules and spirit of laws, and act fairly with the highest integrity.
  • Adequate Information Management
    Have a framework for managing information in place, and keep personal information and confidential information secure.
  • Responsible Minerals Procurement
    To promote responsible minerals procurement, try to avoid using unrightfully mined minerals from conflict zones as raw materials in reference to the Conflict Minerals Response Policy.

Management System

  • Provision of Superior Quality
    Work on building a framework for delivering safe, high quality products and services to customers who use our products and services.
  • Continuous Improvement of Activities
    Use CSR procurement questionnaires, surveys and others that we provide you and try to make continuous, PDCA-conscious improvements in responding to social requirements.

Contribution to Sustainable Society

  • Social Contribution in Consideration of Communities and the Environment
    Make efforts to become a good corporate citizen through social contribution activities while sharing our social, economic and cultural resources in communities and considering the global environment.

Request for Cooperation to Business Partners

  • Request for Cooperation to Your Business Partners
    Request your business partners to cooperate with our efforts to fulfill our social responsibilities from the viewpoints of legal compliance, human rights, labor, safety and health, environment, ethics, management system, etc. stated in these CSR Procurement Standards.

Conflict Minerals Response Policy

A part of minerals (tantalum, tin, gold and tungsten (3TG)) produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and neighboring countries in Africa are some sources of funds for local armed groups, and there are concerns that transactions for such minerals may promote conflicts and involve matters such as human rights violations, labor issues and environmental degradation problems.
These minerals are called "conflict minerals," and the Brother Group recognizes the issue regarding them as an important issue from a corporate perspective to fulfill its corporate social responsibility (CSR).
To implement responsible procurement, the Brother Group carries out surveys on the use of such minerals and will steadily undertake efforts toward avoiding the use of conflict minerals while cooperating with suppliers.

Efforts in the Brother Group to Deal with the Issue of Conflict Minerals

The Brother Group has examined systems and methods to deal with the issue of conflict minerals since 2014 and has been carrying out conflict minerals surveys targeting suppliers since 2016. Currently, we have established a working group in which related business units including those in charge of purchasing, law, and CSR affairs participate, and deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner.
In addition, to confirm the state of response to the issue of conflict minerals across the Brother Group's entire supply chain, we formulated our "Work Standard for Conflict Mineral Surveys" based on the "Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas" by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and are promoting the survey program.

Conflict minerals survey program

The Brother Group has been carrying out a conflict minerals survey once a year targeting suppliers that supply raw materials or parts used in the Group's products. In this survey, the Group uses the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) provided by the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI)* to verify the content of conflict minerals, identify Smelter or Refiner (SOR) in the supply chain of the Brother Group, and confirm the state of efforts made by each supplier toward the issue of conflict minerals.
In addition, using the survey results, risk assessment is conducted for each supplier based on information and such of identified SOR within the Brother Group's supply chain. Then, based on the results of risk assessment, we ask suppliers that use SOR expected to be of concern to take appropriate responses, including requiring suppliers to conduct reconfirmation of SOR.
Furthermore, the Brother Group also requests that suppliers understand what the Group thinks through means such as the CSR Procurement Standards and work on procurement activities to avoid the use of conflict minerals.
At the same time, in the Brother Group, training related to conflict minerals is conducted for working group members and staff from procurement, quality management and other departments that are in charge of the survey to improve understanding about the undertaking of conflict minerals surveys.

Cooperation with external agencies

As a corporate member of RBA and RMI, BIL cooperates with the industry to improve activities regarding conflict minerals surveys in the supply chain.

Results of past surveys

The Brother Group carried out the survey and obtained answers from more than 95% of the targeted suppliers. The Group will make ongoing efforts to obtain answers from all of such suppliers. The Group also appropriately answered and dealt with inquiries from customers about the conflict minerals survey by means such as the submission of CMRT.

Survey response rate
CY2017 CY2018 CY2019 CY2020
Response rate 96.6% 97.4% 96.5% 95.5%
3TG survey results
CY2020
Tantalum Tin Tungsten Gold Total
Number of identified SOR 37 73 47 161 318
Number of CFS*2-certified SOR 37 62 45 111 255
Percentage of CFS*2-certified SOR 100% 85% 96% 69% 80%
  1. Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI):An organization that promotes the responsible procurement of minerals globally in cooperation with companies.
  2. Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS): Smelter or refinery that has been certified through audit as not using conflict minerals.

CSR Procurement Level-up Program

Developed CSR Procurement Level-up Program in FY2020

In FY2020, the Brother Group developed our CSR Procurement Level-up Program to improve CSR procurement at our suppliers. This program comprises the three steps given below, and repeatedly conducting these steps helps to improve the level of CSR procurement at each supplier.

STEP1:

Suppliers are requested to understand and comply with Brother's CSR Procurement Standards. Their agreement to promote the contents stated in the CSR Procurement Standards is confirmed through the signing of consent forms.

STEP2:

The state of compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards is confirmed through self-checks using the CSR questionnaire.

STEP3:

The state of compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards is evaluated based on the responses to the CSR questionnaire. Suppliers that have risks discovered as a result of the evaluation are requested to make improvements while communicating with them such as through meetings. After making requests for improvement, the state of improvement is confirmed through means such as audits and monitoring.

Mechanism of CSR Procurement Level-up Program Mechanism of CSR Procurement Level-up Program

This program is being deployed not only for existing suppliers but also new ones. For existing suppliers, based on the evaluation results about the state of compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards, areas of improvement are clarified for each supplier, the results are given as feedback to the suppliers, and they are requested to make improvements. For new transactions, compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards is confirmed so that CSR procurement is carried out even more steadily in the future. Through this program, the Brother Group seeks to further improve the level of CSR procurement together with suppliers.

CSR Procurement Standards Familiarization Activities

Supplier explanatory meetings in FY2021

In April 2021, we held an explanatory meeting online for suppliers at Printing & Solutions Division (P&S) manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. There were 680 people from 380 companies that participated in the meeting. We worked to thoroughly make our CSR Procurement Standards common knowledge among our suppliers. In addition, at each of these meetings, we gave explanations to suppliers about the activities based on the CSR Procurement Level-up Program developed in FY2020.
At the explanatory meetings, we requested that suppliers "fully comply with laws and ordinances," "comply with the revised version of CSR Procurement Standards," "revise the CSR questionnaire in FY2021," and take a "questionnaire survey on forced labor." In addition, we explained the fortification of risk management response while reviewing the handling of COVID-19. Suppliers that participated in the explanatory meetings voiced their consent of the Brother CSR Procurement Policy. These are some of the comments we received—"We recognized the importance of working environment and ethics in addition to the traditional aspects of environment, safety, and health as well as the necessity for activities across the supply chain;" "In global management, efforts toward CSR procurement will definitely improve the social position of companies and we will also consider our activity policy;" and "We think that Brother's CSR procurement efforts are extremely good activities for improving corporate value, and we will also actively cooperate in your activities."

CSR Procurement Standards supplementary explanation

In FY2020, we developed a supplementary explanation about the Brother Group's CSR Procurement Standards and started activities to get suppliers to sign consent forms. The supplementary explanation gives the background to the formulation of the CSR Procurement Standards, specifically stating clearly that it was developed with reference to the RBA Code of Conduct, and also states the requests and matters for cooperation being sought from suppliers. The supplementary explanation of the CSR Procurement Standards as well as consent forms were sent to suppliers within Japan and overseas to obtain their understanding about the Brother Group's CSR Procurement Standards, from which we received agreement from 480 suppliers. In addition, we also explain the CSR Procurement Standards when starting new transactions to obtain understanding and cooperation. These activities will also be continued in FY2021.

Training sessions related to the Brother Group's CSR Procurement Standards at suppliers

In FY2020, Brother hosted training sessions to introduce the Brother Group's efforts toward the SDGs to suppliers and familiarize them with the CSR Procurement Standards (RBA compliance) in China and Vietnam. These sessions, which were attended by a total of 31 companies and 56 individuals, were based on the SDGs and CSR Procurement Standards and helped the participants understand the Brother Group CSR Procurement Standards by providing an explanation on them. In addition, the participants were engaged in group discussions on social themes, such as human rights, occupational safety and health, and local society, and on other themes, such as the environment, legal compliance, and ethics, while sharing their findings and suppliers' examples on each theme.
Examples introduced during the group discussions include "Regarding safety and health at our company, we strive to improve hygiene at our canteen and closely manage the kitchen environment, kitchen equipment, and hygiene at the canteen;" "Regarding human rights and working conditions, we introduced facilities and incorporated automatic quality management to reduce overtime work of our employees;" and "At our company, safety training activities are conducted periodically to increase our employees' production safety awareness." In addition, comments given in the surveys after the training sessions included "Learning from Brother, our company is working on CSR activities" and "We were able to understand the meaning and purpose of CSR procurement through participating in the training session."

Brother will continuously strive to familiarize more suppliers with the Brother Group CSR Procurement Standards through this type of study sessions.

Training session on the CSR Procurement Standards at an overseas facility Training session on the CSR Procurement Standards at an overseas facility

Confirming the State of Compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards at Suppliers

Evaluation of suppliers through CSR questionnaire and CSR procurement audits

Conduct of CSR questionnaire and evaluation of suppliers

The Brother Group implements CSR questionnaire activities over a three year cycle for suppliers in China, Vietnam and the Philippines, where the manufacturing facilities of the P&S are located. In FY2020, we revised our CSR questionnaire to confirm the state of compliance with the CSR Procurement Standards and RBA Code of Conduct at our suppliers. The revised CSR questionnaire comprises questions in the five areas of labor, safety and health, the environment, ethics, and management systems, and the state of efforts at suppliers is confirmed through self-checks. For example, in the area of labor, the items being checked include the absence of forced labor and child labor and compliance with local labor laws and regulations.
The revised CSR questionnaire was given to our main suppliers in China and Vietnam. We evaluated the state of compliance at our suppliers and provided them with feedback on the evaluation results. In addition, we also conducted individual interviews with suppliers based on the evaluation results, requested improvements, and confirmed the results of improvements.

Together with the CSR questionnaire, we also send questions about global environmental conservation to confirm the state of efforts at our suppliers regarding their activities to reduce greenhouse gases. We ask suppliers to provide numerical values, such as the greenhouse gas emissions produced by their company (in terms of CO2-equivalent emissions) and the amount of water withdrawal. Some suppliers also set their reduction targets in these categories and report on the degree of achievement of the targets.

Conduct of CSR procurement audits

Besides requesting improvements from suppliers with risks discovered through the CSR questionnaire, we have also built a system where our auditors conduct audits on suppliers' factories and get them to rectify any nonconformities that are discovered. In FY2020, based on the evaluation results of the CSR questionnaire, we conducted factory audits online from among our suppliers.

Through these activities, the Brother Group seeks compliance with the Procurement Policy and CSR Procurement Standards together with our suppliers.

Data Related to CSR Procurement

FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Procurement Policy and CSR Procurement Standards Established in 2008
Green Procurement Started in 2001
Supplier meeting Participated in by approximately 372 companies and 670 individuals in total Participated in by approximately 460 companies and 900 individuals in total Conducted online
Participated in by 129 companies and 217 individuals
CSR questionnaire Conducted every three years since 2012

Promoting CSR Activities at Suppliers in Part Through Workplace Visits and the Selection of Outstanding CSR Activities

Implementing questionnaires on supplier CSR activities and visits to supplier companies at each manufacturing facility; Selected six Outstanding CSR Suppliers in China from submitted entries

Aiming to further promote the CSR activities of its suppliers, the Brother Group has been conducting questionnaire surveys about their CSR efforts and, selecting and honoring excellent ones since 2015 at its two manufacturing factories of the Machinery business, including Kariya Factory and Brother Machinery Xian Co., Ltd.

In FY2020, questionnaire surveys were implemented from August to September 2020 in Japan and responses were received from a total of 63 supplier companies. In the questionnaire survey, emphasis was placed on confirming suppliers' degree of understanding about the SDGs and current conditions with the goal of further improving and reinforcing activities at suppliers going forward.
In China, questionnaire surveys on CSR activities were similarly implemented from September to October 2020. We received responses from 51 companies. Furthermore, we asked suppliers to submit examples of their CSR activities. Of the submissions we received from 32 companies, we selected and awarded six outstanding CSR companies. The award-winning suppliers actively conduct various activities—such as passionate development of employees and development of working environments as well as the promotion of business activities with consideration for the environment and social contribution activities for the local communities—and we shared them as outstanding examples.
The local audits on selected suppliers, which was conducted in FY2019, were not conducted to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Brother Group continually strives to develop relations of mutual trust with its business partners and grow together with them to quickly deliver superior value to customers.

FY2020 award-winning company
BROTHER MACHINERY XIAN CO., LTD., Outstanding CSR award

  • ZHEJIANG FOUNDER MOTOR CO., LTD.
  • ZHUHAI KWUNHING MACHINERY & ELECTRONIC CO., LTD.
  • NINGBO WU FENG JI XIE MACHINERY CO., LTD.
  • CHONGQING ZERO-ONE PRECISION MACHINERY CO., LTD, CHINA
  • FRIEND SEWING SPARES FACTORY OF DONGYANG
  • XIANYANG HAILONG SEALED COMPOSITE MATERIALS CO., LTD.

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