Note from the Sedex CEO: A reflection on 2020
To all our members, staff and friends, looking back on 2020, nobody could have predicted the year that we have all witnessed. The past 12 months have rocked every person, family, business and supply chain across the world.
At Sedex, we had some advance warning of the virus outbreak, thanks to our ever-vigilant team in Shanghai – allowing us to prepare the Sedex business in January 2020 for the impact of COVID-19. We battened down the hatches and prepared for a significant hit to members, given the strong supply chain presence around the world. We witnessed a considerable slowing in onsite audit activity, as well as some members choosing to suspend Sedex platform usage, as businesses around the world prepared for financial and operational challenges. This slowdown had an initial early impact on incoming business for Sedex, as we predicted, but interestingly we still saw many new members join us in the midst of the of the pandemic. This shows us, even during times of crisis, that businesses continue to place importance on acting responsibly and protecting their workforce.
Within Sedex, we all felt strongly that we should assist our members during this challenging time. Along with offering flexible membership options, we worked closely with members to launch two additional new tools in April and May – our Virtual Assessment capability, allowing businesses to commission an effective offsite audit where supplier sites were closed to visitors, and our “worker voice” tool, Direct Worker Reporting – allowing direct, anonymous feedback from workers in supply chains. In addition, we developed a COVID-19 specific module for our Self-Assessment Questionnaire, launched a world leading Risk Assessment Tool, and published business guidance for managing impacts of the pandemic.
I’m pleased to report that these measures were enthusiastically adopted, with over 2000 members attending our series of webinars on these capabilities. As I write this note, over 650 Virtual Assessments have been completed in 80 different countries and the Direct Worker Reporting tool has made over 2,300 calls.
In addition to new capabilities, we’ve been able to continue close conversations with many of our members, as well as meeting many of you virtually at our India Summit and Asia Pacific Conferences. It has been wonderful to share ideas and hear your plans for 2020 and beyond. A key theme has emerged – that you are still hugely supportive of our shared mission – to lift the standard of responsible business practices in global supply chains, and that you are looking forward to Sedex offering new and exciting solutions in 2021.
In the spirit of looking forward to more positive times, the second half of 2020 showed a return towards some normality, with responsible sourcing and audit activity regaining similar levels to 2019 on a monthly basis – supporting the protection of workers in supply chains.
Recently, Sedex has been busy increasing skills in the business, with new hires and roles alongside putting the commercial foundations of the business on a firmer footing. Work has commenced in earnest to build our fantastic new Sedex platform, which will start to replace Sedex Advance during 2021 and 2022, with new capabilities for both Buyer and Supplier members.
Finally, a move to our new London headquarters at 5 Old Bailey in central London signifies an exciting future as the pandemic eases and we gradually return to work. I hope I can invite many of you over at some point to come and visit, to discuss your plans for the year and hear your feedback on our work and platform.
While there are still uncertainties about the virus, I remain hugely positive about the prospects for us all in 2021. I hope that we will all start to return to normality, that factory sites will be full and that our supply chains can flow freely once more. Whatever the outcome, rest assured that Sedex will continue to support your activities in whatever way we can.
I wish you all an excellent and prosperous 2021, as we work together to make global supply chains safer and happier places to work for everyone.