Dell Inc. today responded to EBN's request for additional information on how it monitors its partners' compliance to fair labor standards for workers.
“We take the health and safety of our — and our partners' — employees very seriously,” says a Dell spokesman. “We share concerns about overseas labor practices and we make the fair treatment of workers a top priority. Our corporate social responsibility organization is at the forefront of what we stand for at Dell, and we address many of these issues as part of our day-to-day work.”
In a previous blog, I noted that Dell’s 2010 Corporate Responsibility report did not mention site visits or on-site audits as part of its overall compliance monitoring. “We do, in fact, conduct audits of our partners' factories,” says Dell's spokesman.
Last year, Dell conducted a walk-through of several facilities managed by an overseas manufacturing partner. Dell identified strategies for improvement and continues to work with this organization and its other partners toward optimum worker conditions. “We continue to work closely with our partners to address any health and safety issues and ensure the welfare of employees,” the spokesman says.
In addition to ensuring the physical safety of employees, Dell requires workers to be treated with respect and dignity, consistent with Dell's internal code of conduct. “As a leader in the technology industry and as a global business we have a responsibility to pass on those expectations to our business partners.”
Dell's code of conduct includes a human rights and labor policy statement that applies to all Dell employees and other stakeholders. That policy:
- …outlines standards to ensure that all employees are treated with respect and dignity, are working under their own free will, and are being properly compensated for their effort. Dell Inc. is committed to upholding the protection of human rights of all workers where it is possible through our sphere of influence. We are committed to ensuring that we are not complicit in any human rights violations and hold our suppliers and partners to this same high standard. Dell supports and respects the principles proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and believes businesses should ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.
Elements of the policy include freely chosen employment; no underage workers; minimum wage, regular hours, and benefits; humane treatment; non-discrimination; freedom of association and collective bargaining; and health and safety.
On a more personal note: Dell has a strong reputation as a socially responsible company, and it's unlikely that Dell ignored the red flag raised by reports of suicides at global EMS provider Foxconn. I credit Dell for its response to EBN's queries, and I have no doubt the company independently verifies that workers within its extensive supply chain are treated fairly and that Dell will rectify any problems that it finds.