Our business touches the lives of millions of people around the world and treating people fairly is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that every single person in the Waitrose & Partners supply chain – from our Partners, to the people who grow, pick, pack and make our products – should be safe, well treated and fairly rewarded for their work.
We take a long term view, working with suppliers to continually raise supply chain standards, manage risks and ultimately, create better jobs for all workers. Employee engagement in the workplace is highly valued and we use our knowledge and experience as a co-owned business to encourage better worker voice channels in our supply chain.
Respecting human rights
As long-standing members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) we take our responsibility towards the people whose labour helps us stock our stores extremely seriously. Our Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice reflects the ETI base code and details what we expect from all of our suppliers, including terms of pay and working conditions, workers’ rights and representation, health, safety and working hours.
We seek to build lasting relationships with our suppliers and are committed to upholding human rights throughout our product and services supply chain. We support the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
We only work with suppliers who share our values of fairness and respect for human rights and welfare. All our suppliers are monitored on how they are performing against our Responsible Sourcing Code of Practice through regular independent inspections. This provides a valuable snapshot of our supply chain working conditions and helps us tailor our ethical trade programme to address issues in high risk sectors and regions.
We recognise that ethical audits can be limited in their ability to identify and prevent human rights abuses such as modern slavery. We work with suppliers to develop their knowledge and skills so they can identify and address these risks in their own businesses.
We also offer free training to all suppliers on addressing modern slavery and responsible recruitment. Suppliers are encouraged to engage openly with us on these issues.
Knowing our supply chain
We work with NGOs, trade unions and industry experts to identify workers most at risk and tailor our ethical trade programme to address human rights abuses in the supply chain where it is most needed.
We train our Partners to spot signs of modern slavery and provide training and resources to suppliers to help raise standards. Our Partners regularly visit farms, growers and fisheries and work closely with our suppliers to ensure they meet our expectations on worker welfare. Through the Waitrose Farm Assessment and the Livestock Worker Welfare Programme we monitor conditions at farm level, share Waitrose & Partners values, ensure compliance and reward best practice.
We also work with organisations in key sourcing countries such as the Spanish Ethical Trade Forum (Spain), Issarra Institute (Thailand) and Stronger Together (UK, Spain and South Africa). More than 450 staff at our supplier sites have now completed Stronger Together’s modern slavery training.
WISE risk assessments
The seasonal nature of fresh produce, such as vegetables, fruit, flowers, fish, meat and poultry, means at peak times, farmers often rely on seasonal and migrant workers. We know these workers can be vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
To address this, we have worked with Hull University’s Wilberforce Institute on Slavery and Emancipation (WISE) since 2015 to evaluate our supply chain and areas of highest risk.
WISE have now assessed the risk of modern-day slavery at more than 35 high-risk sites supplying Waitrose & Partners with produce from the UK, Spain, Italy, Peru and Chile. Their findings help strengthen our policies, improve protection for workers and raise awareness among suppliers.
Giving workers a voice
At Waitrose & Partners, every Partner has a say in how our business is run. We believe that when workers and management engage effectively to share ideas and discuss issues, their welfare improves.
One example of promoting worker voice is the Waitrose & Partners Foundation which launched in 2005 to help improve the lives of workers and their communities within our supply chain.
Every time you buy produce from the Foundation range, a proportion of the sales are invested back into the communities that grow, pick and pack it. Locally-elected worker committees decide the best ways to spend this money on projects that benefit local lives the most.
Shop the range from Waitrose & Partners Foundation
We are transparent and accountable
Running a global supply chain is complex, but we always try to do right by those who work for us, and with us. To improve transparency and traceability along our supply chain, we publish a list of factories that manufacture or pack our products around the world, known as Tier 1 sites.
Our annual Modern Slavery Statement highlights what we are doing to prevent abuse and protect those in our supply chain from being exploited.