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13 October 2012 | Anna Reynolds
Microsoft is educating its hardware suppliers in Africa to identify the ore refineries they use to develop a conflict mineral–free supply chain, according to its annual citizenship report.
The computing and electronics company is teaching vendors to examine each component used in products that contain tin, gold, tantalum and tungsten, and to verify that the minerals in these components are not from conflict mineral areas.
Microsoft participated in the Public-Private Alliance for Responsible Minerals Trade, a joint initiative set up at the end of 2011 between governments, businesses and civil society to explore potential supply chain solutions to the challenge of conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region of central Africa.
Further, the business is looking to align its efforts with OECD sourcing due diligence recommendations and its requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act.
Brian Tobey, corporate vice president of manufacturing, supply chain, information and services, said in a statement: “We have invested heavily in a robust supply chain social and environmental accountability program intended to verify that suppliers meet our vendor code of conduct.”
Microsoft’s code of conduct required fair and legal wages, anti-corruption protections, a workplace free of discrimination, environmental compliance and no forced labour. If suppliers are unwilling to follow the code, Microsoft will take disciplinary action, including terminating contracts.
In 2012 Microsoft spent over $1.5 billion (£936 million) worldwide, supporting female-owned, minority-owned or veteran-owned suppliers, putting the company in the top 15 global companies for responsible sourcing.
Microsoft has also partnered with suppliers to build ‘community technology centres’ (CTCs) in their communities, providing people of all ages with low-cost access to technology. There are now 15 suppliers in 13 countries hosting CTCs at their facilities.