Updated on August 23, 2017
Sony has introduced the EICC framework, including tools for measuring compliance with its standards, to its production plants and implements regular assessments and monitoring to check on compliance and make improvements. Specifically, Sony utilizes the EICC questionnaire as an annual CSR self-assessment survey at all of its electronics manufacturing sites in and outside of Japan as part of its efforts to ascertain compliance with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct. The self-assessment evaluates compliance in five categories designated by the EICC Code of Conduct: labor, health and safety, ethics, environment, and management systems. At manufacturing sites where self-assessment surveys indicate issues with compliance, and further evaluation and improvement in these areas are deemed necessary, the site is audited to develop the appropriate measures to improve compliance. These measures are implemented and, when necessary, an EICC audit is conducted of the site. In fiscal 2016, 20 manufacturing sites in Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, UK, Mexico and Brazil completed self-assessment surveys. The survey did not identify any areas of major non-compliance with Sony standards. In cases where any possibility of violations of the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct is reported by external sources, such as NGOs or media reports, the manufacturing site in question determines the facts of the case. If this determination confirms the reported violations, Sony ensures that appropriate action is immediately taken, including an EICC audit conducted by a third-party auditor.
There is mounting social pressure on global corporations to conduct human rights due diligence for their supply chains. For example, the United Kingdom enacted the Modern Slavery Act to prevent modern forms of slavery such as forced labor in supply chains. Malaysia in particular has many foreign workers who are employed at manufacturing facilities for electronic products and components. An international human rights non-governmental organization has issued a report citing forced labor conditions among foreign workers in Malaysia's electronics industry. The practices cited include workers being charged excess commissions upon hiring and employers retaining workers' passports, making it difficult for workers to get their passports back when they needed them. These conditions limit the freedoms of foreign workers who are living away from their home countries, leading to forced labor conditions.
Sony also employs many foreign workers at its manufacturing sites in Malaysia. In response to social concerns over forced labor, Sony commissioned a third-party assessment involving a fact-finding survey and risk identification regarding employment of foreign workers and their labor conditions at Sony manufacturing sites in Malaysia in fiscal 2016. The assessment was conducted by the non-profit Business for Social Responsibility, which provides its member companies with research and consulting services relating to corporate social responsibility.
The third party assessment was implemented by interviewing management, human resources personnel, and foreign workers from Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, as well as interviewing temporary staffing agencies acting as intermediaries for foreign workers either in their home countries or Malaysia. Personnel from the CSR department in Japan were dispatched to Malaysia to observe the assessment, which covered the entire process from before hiring (prior to leaving the home country) to actual hiring and conditions after termination of employment (after expiry of the employment contract). The assessment did not find any cases that qualified as serious legal violations, but identified some areas for improvement that Sony is currently working to address. For example, the assessment found that living conditions for foreign workers hired through temporary staffing agencies could be improved in terms of the cleanliness of dormitories, living space provided, and surrounding environment. Sony is working with temporary staffing agencies to make improvements by implementing follow-up visits to dormitories, as well as citing agencies that have made positive improvements and sharing their initiatives among agencies.