The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is a national trade association representing America’s largest retailers. Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act, as interpreted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in its final regulation and lengthy accompanying release, collectively require those who manufacture or contract to manufacture products to obtain information from their suppliers on conflict minerals. With the potential inclusion of retail in the SEC’s draft conflict mineral rule and growing awareness by retail throughout 2011, many RILA members identified the need to develop an understanding of the compliance obligation and the tools needed to meet it.
EICC and GeSI Program
The Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) have spent the last several years developing a Conflict Free Smelter (CFS) program and accompanying supplier questionnaire (Template) to address the issue and SEC rule. The program seemed ideal for a consistent approach across various industries to help determine mineral origin.
RILA joined the EICC-GeSI’s Extractives Sub Group in late 2011 and worked to determine if this approach would indeed be usable for the retail industry. Identifying retail-specific needs to be added to the EICC and GeSI Template, RILA was pleased that EICC-GeSI members agreed to expand the scope of the supplier questionnaire to include product level declarations. RILA members then worked with Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) throughout 2012 to develop effective and easy to understand retail-focused training for the EICC and GeSI Template. The training explains to suppliers their due diligence requirements and how they should seek to identify the smelters in their supply chain. This training for suppliers also covers the background of the law, their obligations and how to exercise appropriate due diligence to complete the EICC and GeSI Template. This retail training, along with the EICC and GeSI Template, was piloted with select suppliers in August and September of 2012. After learning’s and gaps were identified from the pilot, the training was adjusted accordingly. RILA members continue to agree with other industries and NGO’s that a single, widely recognized approach, aligned with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) due diligence guidance, will consistently produce more accurate smelter information from across many industries and help to educate the supply chain, resulting in greater transparency.