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Side Event - Responsible Purchasing Practices amid COVID-19 and Beyond

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About this event


Purchasing practices is one of the areas where businesses can have the most impact on workers, in particular during times when economies are exposed to shocks and therefore fluctuations in the demand. Within buyer-driven supply chains, suppliers often have less options and flexibility while workers are typically absent from the decision-making process. Sourcing policies and their alignment with the responsible business behaviors can can influence the quality of employment relations. Poor purchasing practices, such as those that put pressures in terms of timeline, prices and delivery to suppliers, can translate to a demand of highly flexible workforce and have negative effects on worker’s health, wages and working conditions, affecting the well-being of workers and therefore the productivity and competitiveness of both buyers and suppliers. Responsible purchasing practices, in contrast, will support the suppliers’ ability to provide safe and fair conditions for workers.

During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many companies decided to cancel their orders to keep themselves afloat. The burden then falls to their suppliers who are more vulnerable and have less capacity to absorb cost, resulting in reduced income and job loss for millions of workers globally. When brands and retailers abandon responsible purchasing practices, they are not only going to hurt their reputation and social license to operate, but also create difficulties for their own supply chain to recover and expose themselves to risks such as the increase of price by employment agencies when conditions come back to normal. The interdependence of actors in global supply chains illustrates how the concept of purchasing responsibly can reduce impacts on buyers, suppliers and workers in a time of crisis and beyond.


The session will discuss how responsible purchasing practices can strengthen business relations and help cushion the COVID-19 shocks, ensuring sustainability of the supply chains, as well as good working conditions and productivity. Laying out specific actions to be taken by brands and retailers in a time of crisis, the session will showcase good practices from lead firms and their impacts on workers. The panel will also explore how the concept of purchasing responsibly can be integrated to business’ plans for long-term recovery and future disruptions and help build resilient supply chains that generate decent work opportunities.


  • Present and discuss the way how the organisers, amfori and Sedex’s, and their members take up responsible purchasing practices upholding international labour standards and following the guidelines of international instruments.

  • Introduce businesses with alternatives to protect both their company and workers in their supply chain in a time of crisis

  • Encourage businesses to emphasize responsible purchasing practices in their plan to address the challenges of the current crisis and to adapt for the upcoming recovery


  • Why responsible purchasing practices are relevant for both the institutions you represent and your members?

  • How can responsible purchasing practices relieve the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Why should brands and retailers continue to commit to responsible purchasing practices and support their suppliers in a time of crisis and recovery?

  • What are recommended actions for a sourcing company in a time of crisis?

  • Please share with the audience some purchasing practices that have been implemented by your company during this health crisis and what are their impacts on workers?

  • How can companies integrate responsible purchasing practices to their plans for long-term recovery and future disruptions? And how these practice are useful to address potential risks in the operations of the supply chain?

  • How can other stakeholders engage in monitoring and hold companies accountable on responsible purchasing practices?

Mrs. Caroline G. Bouisset

Mrs. Caroline G. Bouisset is the Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Fristads Kansas Group. She has over 25 years of experience in international textile industry across several sectors.

Ms. Joyce Chau

In more than 20 years, Ms Chau has been working as a corporate communications practitioner for various organizations with focus on sustainability, CSR, and supply chain management. Her major expertise is in public affairs, stakeholder and media relations crisis and issues management.

Mr. Fredy Guayacan

Mr. Fredy Guayacan is an Economist working with the ILO on socially responsible labour practices in global supply chains. He is the manager of the programme Responsible Supply Chains in Asia.

Ms. Katherine Kang

Ms. Katherine is the Managing Director of Sunshine Fashion Accessories & Garments Co., Ltd., a company specializing in designing, producing and exporting fashion jewelry and accessories all over the world. She has over 20 years of experience in sourcing, compliance and supply chain management.

Ms. Magali Martowicz

Ms. Magali Martowicz is Sedex’s Director of Responsible Sourcing. She is passionate about making a genuine difference in the lives of workers and brings 12 years of responsible sourcing experience with her.

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