“We’re talking about small farmers, and there is no way we can reach them on our own,” says Barak. “We need partners who know the farmers and the culture and can help us sell to and train them. For that, we need government partners, NGOs and financing or- ganizations such as the IFC or World Bank. There’s no way we can do it alone.” In an effort to transform the cell phone industry’s standards for environmentally responsible green phones, Sprint worked with the Underwriters Labo- ratories Environment (ULE) and the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (a resource of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) to cre- ate new standards for suppliers and purchasing. “We wanted to market green mobile phones but un- derstood that we can’t self-assess our own devices and have credibility with consumers,” says Amy Har- groves, director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Sprint. “People should question green labels or claims that are not third-party certi- fied. We needed a credible partner with scientific testing capabilities to give our standards meaning.” Sprint is currently expanding the standards to new areas such as tablets and hot spots. “So, this is a re- peatable model,” Hargroves says.
R E S E A R C H R E P O R T J O I N I N G F O R C E S THE SPECTRUM OF PARTNERSHIPS Nearly 60% of respondents say that their sustain- ability collaborations include other businesses, either through industry associations, across industries or within the same industry. Collaborations that include academia (47%), NGOs (47%) and govern- ment (39%) trail somewhat behind (see Figure 7). Companies with more strategic and transforma- tional collaborations tend to collaborate with a wider range of organizations. Thirty-five percent of the or- ganizations with the strongest focus on strategic and transformational collaborations, for example, are engaged with multilaterals, compared to an average of 26% in companies that lack this focus. The outdoor apparel company Timberland is work- ing closely with the Leather Working Group to ensure that the company sources leather from en- vironmentally responsible tanneries. “Through our work with the group, we can foster best practices related to energy, chemical and water management and make sure we only buy from silver- or gold-rated tanneries,” says Betsy Blaisdell, manager of environ- mental stewardship for Timberland. “The work also reduced complexity in sourcing.” 11 The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) helps support the development of a responsible global electronics supply chain by facilitating collaboration and dialogue among companies, workers, govern- ments, civil society, investors and academia. It is bringing companies in different industries together to exert more power over suppliers. EICC companies real- ize that a coalition can send a strong message to suppliers that they need to care more about where their resources come from and under what conditions their products are manufactured.
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