The integrity of the supply chain is a key predicate for job creation, growth, innovation and risk management. Promotion of responsible labor and environmental practices in global supply chains are well known initiatives, while issues such as corruption, piracy, and counterfeiting have received less attention. In recent years, the lack of intellectual property (IP) enforcement in a number of key supplier markets, along with stepped up FCPA enforcement and passage of the UK Bribery Act, underscore the need for greater attention to these matters.
For corporations, mitigating supply chain challenges in areas such as corruption and respect for IP are critical elements in reducing risk and achieving fair competition. By addressing the challenges of corruption and misappropriation of trade secrets, trademarks, copyrights, and patents, corporations can both develop productive relationships with their suppliers and ensure protections throughout their product’s lifecycle. They can also decrease their own compliance risks and foster economic development.
There is a timely opportunity to examine various strategic approaches and practices to preventing corruption and protecting intellectual property through all levels of the supply chain. In particular, this can be done by building upon the efforts corporations have made in the last 15- 20 years to reduce their risks in the areas of labor standards, environmental practices and product safety.
In March 2012, The Conference Board launched a Research Working Group to investigate and promote supply chain practices for resisting corruption and improving IP protections. In particular, this initiative sought to address these questions:
- What are your biggest challenges related to respect for intellectual property, anti-corruption, and transparency in supplier markets? What do you believe are the root causes of these challenges?
- What are some leading practices companies use to manage IP protection in their supply chain? What are some of the internal obstacles? What are some potential solutions?
- What are some leading practices companies use to prevent corruption in their supply chain? What are some of the internal obstacles? What are some potential solutions?
- How can we create a model of improved processes in the due diligence phase and in ongoing third party relationships? How do we practically implement these without burdening the systems already in place?
- What tools and other resources would be useful to companies to impact these issues through their supply chains? What goals are reasonable and meaningful?