Due diligence workshop lays the foundation for the real work
Due diligence and human rights expert Liesbeth Unger led the workshop, initiated by Unicef. The goal was to clarify to the representatives in attendance the expectations in the agreement regarding due diligence and what they mean for individual companies. The workshop also helped the parties understand what they need to fill in the “baseline due diligence”, the assessment of the company’s current due diligence status.
“We’re all in this together, so let’s get to it,’’ is how Diana van der Pad of Bijou Moderne summed up the workshop. For her company, the due diligence process is a relatively new area that they can now start working in.
The participants were given explanatory and background information on the guidelines of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, the handbook for helping companies avoid risks in the mineral supply chain and address them where necessary. This included a discussion of the five steps of the due diligence process: setting up a management system, identifying risks, managing risks, auditing, and reporting.
Another party to the agreement, Philips, presented some deeper insights into the day-to-day practice and the options that companies have for holding their suppliers to account. As a major conglomerate, Philips has experience with this process. Some of the other participants in the agreement are just starting out with these processes.
The role of a number of the parties setting the standard in this area was also discussed. This discussion made the workshop a practical example of how cooperation helps in complex processes. “That exchange of experiences was extremely useful,” said Joost Vos, who attended the workshop for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And, he said, it helped enhance the sense of mutual trust.
The session concluded with a roundtable in which the participants presented the next concrete steps their companies would be taking.