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By Chermaine Yap

A New Normal
Last week, we conducted our regular Sustainability workshop for our third-party suppliers via Zoom Webinar – our new normal. More than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic, we have acclimated to engaging our suppliers virtually.

Our online supplier workshop held last week.

Before the pandemic, we held about four physical supplier workshops annually. Yet, in the first five months of 2021, we conducted three workshops, and we are planning for more in the second half of 2021. While the pandemic has taken away opportunities to meet our suppliers physically, we see this as an opportunity to explore new means of engaging our suppliers, using virtual means to achieve a higher degree of consistency.

To keep up with a virtual audience, we found ways to present information during workshops. We want to cover a broad spectrum of topics within a shorter timespan (compared to physical workshops) and still keep our suppliers’ full attention. Hence, we created video tutorials on filling in the traceability and self-assessment documents.

The Importance of Supplier Workshops
The pandemic has not changed our focus on supplier engagement. We see it as an essential step in communicating the key points of our Sustainability Policy, informing suppliers of NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation) requirements and the possible consequences of non-compliance. We train suppliers on crucial topics such as environment, governance, workplace human rights, community and social rights, traceability, and certification. We also explain how to fill up documents such as the Traceability to Plantation (TTP) form and Self-Assessment Tool (SAT), an integral part of our Supplier Engagement process.

Through our TTP exercise, we can reduce our environmental and social risks and ensure that the FFB Musim Mas sources are NDPE compliant. The SAT enables suppliers to self-declare information about their operations. Based on our desktop research and responses to the SAT, we carry out a gap analysis of each supplier against our Policy commitments. Tailored roadmaps are then assembled, with time-bound plans enabling each supplier to achieve the mutually agreed NDPE requirements. These roadmaps provide benchmarks and milestones that demonstrate suppliers’ compliance and allow us to monitor their progress.

Our Supplier Engagement Team introducing the Self-Assessment Tool in our KL workshop last year.

Part of A Wider Engagement Strategy
Our strategy for the Aceh landscape, released last November, detailed objectives and targets specific to achieving our vision in this particular landscape. The strategy has three objectives, namely EngagementAssurance, and Monitoring and Response. Supplier workshops are an important first step as part of the Engagement objective, to reach out to mills and their suppliers, who are the key audience. You may refer to the Aceh report here.

Fundamentally, we see suppliers workshops as the first touchpoint to understand, influence and mentor our suppliers on NDPE requirements, building a solid foundational basis for a sustainable palm supply chain. Our workshops help our suppliers understand why sustainable practices are essential and implement our strategy to drive change towards our commitment against our Sustainability Policy. We emphasize that sharing information such as Traceability to Plantation (TTP) and Self-Assessment Tool (SAT) is important. We want our suppliers to understand that we are both part of a value chain in which their role is recognised and important. It is mutually beneficial to work together towards a No-Deforestation and No-Exploitation supply chain.