Excessive working hours, forced labor and discrimination are some of the problems that risk workers’ health in the IT industry.
Achieving a more socially sustainable industry requires long term investments, follow-up and clear consequences that encourage action.
Supply chain problems
Much of the manufacturing of IT products is carried out in low-cost, low-wage countries, where workers are often less protected.
Supply chains are complex and cover several countries. It is almost impossible for a purchasing organization to know which factories are used to manufacture specific products. Specialist expertise, resources and access are needed to monitor working conditions.
Impacts and insights report
The Impacts and Insights 2019 report from TCO Development measures the sustainability progress 2015-2018 among brand owners with IT products.
The report presents a number of keys to solving sustainability issues in the IT industry covering social responsibility in final assembly factories, hazardous substances and conflict minerals.
The independent verification offered as part of the standard of compliance is crucial for a credible audit of factories and the results they achieve.
Corrective action plans that identify the root cause of the shortcoming are created when a company fails to meet the standard and are then importantly followed up regularly to avoid the recurrence of problems.
Using the standard has says Helena Babelon, Head of IT Sustainability & Continuous Improvement at Electrolux Group helped the giant company to make their procurement process much more efficient and set criteria for manufacturing in a straightforward way,
Brands need to consider whether they have the resources avaialble to monitor sub-contracted manufacturers or if in-house assessors are ring-fenced so that they are not pressurised by the need to meet a corporate target.
Value of a standard
Real change in IT equipment manufacturing standards demands engagement from the brand owner.
The independent assessment process needs to be more widely used and the value of it recognised not just by big brands but also by all buyers of IT equipment.
A standard has to be valued otherwise the removing the accreditation from a company will have little meaning.
Soren Enholm, CEO at TCO Development, says that the standard puts pressure on the IT industry and the company can withdraw certificates and restrict factories from manufacturing certified products if the criteria in TCO Certified aren’t fulfilled,
What you can do?
It’s simple really!
If you are buying any information technology equipment from a games consule, telephone or computer simply ask the retailer if they can confirm that the product has been manufacturer in a factory that has been accredited.
If you are asked to use a computer or other piece of information technology at work ask your employer, manager or IT department if the equipment was manifacturer in a facrtory that is accredited to the standard.
Perhaps you could also ask if the manufacturer treats their employees in the same great way that you are treated by your employer.