Updated on August 29, 2019

Sony's Approach to Supplier Relations

Monitoring Activities and Follow-up Measures to Ensure Compliance with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct

Sony established the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct to ensure that suppliers understand Sony's expectations in more detail. All suppliers of products and materials to Sony are required to observe this code.

As part of its efforts to ascertain supplier compliance with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, Sony conducts assessments based on the supplier’s risk level, for all new suppliers and their manufacturing facilities. If Sony does not deal directly with the manufacturing facility, the assessments are conducted through the trading company or manufacturer that Sony does business with.

All direct suppliers and their manufacturing facilities are requested to comply with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct. Suppliers and their manufacturing facilities are categorized by risk level, based on such factors as the country and region in which they are located, size of business, industry, and type of business. Suppliers and their manufacturing facilities conduct a CSR self-assessment using questionnaires from the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA), and the questionnaire results are analyzed to identify potential risks. Based on the results, Sony evaluates the degree to which suppliers are complying with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct and whether violations have occurred at each of the suppliers' manufacturing facilities.

If a manufacturer is suspected to be in violation of the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, an on-site visit is conducted to verify the actual management situation. Sony issues improvement instructions if needed, verifies the improvement results, and assesses to start business dealings. If there is reason to believe that a manufacturing facility is in serious violation of the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, the supplier is removed from consideration for starting business dealings with Sony. The following are examples of serious violations:

  • Forced labor
  • Child labor
  • Inhumane working conditions
  • Unlawful discrimination
  • Lack of an emergency and disaster action plan
  • Presence of risks that cause a serious life-threatening accident to a worker
  • Significant environmental pollution issue

Major OEM suppliers that do sizable business with Sony continue to conduct annual self-assessments using RBA Online even after starting business dealings. In fiscal 2018, Sony requested that all suppliers including existing suppliers comply with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, and conducted document assessments for 126 companies. Based on the document assessment results, Sony identified nine high-risk suppliers and conducted on-site assessments of 15 companies that were determined to be at risk of violating the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct. Sony conducted assessments of approximately 640 companies over a three-year period.

Examples of Instructions for Improvement Based on Observations from On-Site Assessments

  • Working hours
    Observation: Excessive working hours at a supplier in China (over 60 hours per week)
    Improvement instructions: Requested systematic improvement of working hours (to bring them below 60 hours per week), and regular monitoring until improvements are completed
  • Employment of foreign workers
    Observation: Passports belonging to foreign workers were being held by a supplier in Malaysia
    Improvement instructions: Requested that workers be allowed to keep passports themselves or that passports be held but available to workers at any time. The improvements were confirmed to have been implemented.
  • Young workers and student workers
    Observation: Young workers and student workers were working long hours or at night shifts at a supplier in China
    Improvement instructions: Made the supplier prepare an improvement plan to eliminate long working hours and night shifts. The improvements were confirmed to have been implemented.
2016 2017 2018 Total
Compliance with Code of Conduct requested 69 84 83 236
Document assessment 106 122 126 354
Improvements requested 7 5 9 21
On-site assessment 3 13 15 31
Total 185 224 233 642

In cases where any possibility of violations of the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct is reported via external sources, such as NGOs or media reports, Sony cooperates with the supplier in question to confirm the facts of the case expeditiously and objectively. Specifically, Sony may request that the supplier's manufacturing site undergo a third-party RBA audit. In the event that any deficiencies are discovered, the supplier is required to develop an improvement plan, and Sony monitors the supplier's performance in the form of follow-up audits to ensure the progress of initiatives. In cases where any possibility of violations is reported at a secondary supplier, Sony works with the primary supplier to ensure that remedial action is carried out.

Initiatives for Secondary and Further Suppliers

Sony requires that its primary suppliers ensure that the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct is observed by secondary and further suppliers. Primary suppliers conduct self-assessments to verify their understanding of the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct and to ensure that it has been communicated internally and is being complied with. Additionally, primary suppliers communicate the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct to their own supply chains and require compliance.

Communicating and Partnering with Suppliers

Sony provides support to suppliers in order to improve their initiatives. In Southeast Asia and China, local liaison officers assigned to communicate directly with suppliers are provided with the educational and training opportunities needed to serve as CSR specialists at local sites. These CSR specialists strive to ensure that suppliers make continuous efforts to improve management systems and other organizational structures, by communicating with them and providing direct guidance on ways to improve.

Personnel who are involved in parts procurement receive training on socially responsible procurement and the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct. Compliance with the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct is factored in when choosing suppliers, who are assessed and selected based on human rights, ethical, environmental, and health and safety considerations, in addition to other factors.

In fiscal 2016, Sony launched a fire prevention initiative to support safety management at supplier facilities. Under the initiative, Sony provides suppliers with a document describing actual fire incidents, including the causes and lessons learned, together with a fire prevention checklist, to facilitate improvements to safety management.

In fiscal 2018, Sony conducted on-site checks for safety management at supplier facilities, as it did in the previous fiscal year. These on-site checks enabled Sony to identify issues and instruct suppliers to improve the fire prevention management at their facilities. Issues that were frequently identified in the on-site checks included degraded power lines, malfunctioning fire doors, and deficiencies in the installation of control boards for fire pumps. In addition, as part of its efforts to discourage forced labor, Sony provided suppliers in its supply chains with up-to-date information on human rights laws and regulations, as well as providing assessment tools and codes of conduct. These initiatives helped to further strengthen Sony’s supply chain management.

Sony will continue to educate and support suppliers with their CSR initiatives encompassing health, safety, and the environment, through various means including regular meetings with suppliers.

Supplier Hotline

Sony has established a Supplier Hotline which suppliers may use to report conduct by a Sony Group company executive or employee that violates laws, regulations, the Sony Group Code of Conduct, or the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct, as well as conduct that violates the company's agreements with suppliers. The hotline is part of a framework that Sony is focused on establishing to facilitate sharing of concrete information on cases where the conduct of a Sony Group company executive or employee has been identified to be in violation (or possible violation) of any laws, regulations, the Sony Group Code of Conduct, the Sony Supply Chain Code of Conduct or an agreement between Sony and a supplier.

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