Practical ideas provided at Sedex Conference 2017

The Sedex Conference 2017 on 5-6 April was held in the heart of London’s Westminster at the QEII Conference Centre. The prestigious setting hosted hundreds of leaders in responsible sourcing for two days of idea sharing, interactivity, networking and practical advice.

Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, Sedex CEO, mentioned in his summary of the event “the challenge and increasing urgency around continuous improvement continues. However…we seem to be gathering pace and momentum…in order for the step change to occur, recognise that there are tools and a number of initiatives that exist now to support this, in particular technology”.

Attendees from over 43 countries joined the event both in person and online to hear from experts on a range of key topics around the theme ‘continuous improvement, in practice’.

From forced labour, to guidance or legislation, to selling sustainability into the boardroom agenda and joint remediation, to purchasing practices – the conference agenda covered the most relevant topics for responsible sourcing and supply chain sustainability. Attendees heard from a range of panellists from companies including BBC Worldwide, Finnair, HSBC, Mars, S&P Dow Jones Indices, The Body Shop, Verisk Maplecroft, and from organisations such as the Bluenumber Foundation, Business in the Community, ETI, Forum for the Future, Institute for Human Rights and Business and many more.

Delegates were provided with a number of key highlights during the Sedex Conference 2017, some of which included:

  • Campaigner, writer and sustainability adviser, Tony Juniper’s keynote speech highlighted the rapid change taking place in the world with the population explosion and increased demand on resources putting pressure on supply chains.

    “You need to focus on the key things that are going to make a real difference…is it education, is it technology? If the risks are to be minimised and the benefits seized, then leadership from brands is needed now”.

  • Ed Gillespie, Co-Founder of Futerra, blazed through his spotlight talk to leave the audience deep in thought after he challenged brands, suppliers and organisations to put real practices in place to achieve continuous improvement.

    ‘The complexity of our supply chains are creating problems…no matter which system you are using to manage this it is going to be disrupted…this is not about doing the same things better, this is actually about doing fundamentally better things”, he said.

  • Jessi Baker Founder of Provenance excited the audience with her discussion surrounding blockchain and ‘the future of trusted transparency in supply chains‘. Jessi mentioned “we are moving towards a new future for trust. Which is where technology can be the broker for trust itself”.
  • Expert panellists from key technology providers discussed the benefits of ‘unlocking worker voice using technology‘. The discussion came to the conclusion “we need to move away from worker voice pilots and integrate results within management systems”.
  • Chinese workers: from data to story‘, presented by the Founder of Inno- Dee Lee wants companies to see beyond a number. Workers in China are human beings and are smarter than you think. They want similar things to all workers like spending time with family and friends as well as fundamental basics like overtime and paid leave.
  • The panel ‘responsible recruitment‘ discussed the Modern Slavery legislation and provided expert examples and advice on how to ensure businesses go beyond compliance. Henriette McCool shared an example of Qatar having an endemic of migrant workers being forced to pay recruitment fees, but QVDC showed that it is possible to tackle the issue through a lot of detailed and thorough work. The panel agreed that different approaches are required in different areas and that businesses need to pay attention to what’s happening in their own workplaces.

    “Governments across the world need help in building strong institutions that protect workers’ rights, allowing them to operate in safe environments. It needs to be a multi-stakeholder effort, which means bringing together trade unions, private companies and the government right down to the local level”, said Olivia Elliot, Industry Insight Manager from the Textile Development Unit, Tanzania Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, in her speech on ‘Strengthening labour standards and practices in African manufacturing: lessons from Asia‘.

Live polling was introduced for the first time via the conference event app which also allowed delegates to personalise their agenda, network through technology and answer interactive questions during sessions.

For the first time we were thrilled and honoured to host the Sedex Awards, celebrating the fantastic work done by Sedex members worldwide. The Awards were designed to provide members with a chance to put their business in the spotlight and showcase continuous improvement efforts which have made a positive impact to the supply chain, people or the environment.

The winners of each category were:

  • Best example of continuous improvement– M&S (UK): M&S Food How We Do Business (HWDB) Sustainability Framework.
  • Best collaborative effort– AMC Group (Spain): The Juice CSR Platform.
  • Most innovative new programme– ELEVATE (UK) in collaboration with EICC: Workplace of Choice Programme.

Find out more about the winners and their projects here.


Once again, the online audience had a chance to watch live interviews with a selection of speakers. The full playlist of sessions and live interviews is available on the Sedex YouTube page. Thanks to all the fantastic speakers, sponsors and most importantly our attendees for an unforgettable two day conference.

We look forward to seeing you all again next year. Please email if you would like to be involved as a speaker in 2018.


Watch highlights here

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