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Supply chain social sustainability

The Supply Chain Social Sustainability module gives our students a unique opportunity to become socially sustainable managers in the future.

The module, designed by Dr Maryam Lotfi and first taught in spring 2022, reflects the public value strategy of the school. The module is part of the Sustainable Supply Chain (MSc) programme.

Social issues

Students learn about social issues in global supply chains, including:

  • child slavery
  • modern slavery
  • worker exploitations
  • gender-based inequalities,
  • diversity and inclusivity of suppliers
  • the role of different stakeholders in modern slavery risk management

Students are taught how long and complex supply chains prohibit us to see how products are produced, under which conditions and by whom, specifically in lower-tier suppliers.

Dr Maryam Lotfi on why this teaching and research area is important to her:

“Supply chain social issues have always received less attention in comparison to environmental issues. We are always talking about products rather than who produced those products and under which conditions. This is a bitter reality of today’s global supply chains which include 3.3 million children as child slaves in the supply chain (ILO 2022).

I have a huge interest and I feel huge responsibility as a sustainability researcher to showcase these areas related to those who are less included and less talked about, especially children and female workers exploited in the supply chain lower tiers in many developing countries. They are still part of the supply chains and we are still responsible. My aim is to develop a worker-centric approach in the supply chains via my research and teaching.”

How teaching addresses public value

The teaching addresses the ‘decent work’ public value grand challenge by investigating the illegal working of children in lower tiers of supply chains in developing countries, specifically in India.

With low wages and in many instances working conditions that impact children’s health, while depriving them of education, the module aims to create awareness of child slavery as a risk in supply chains.

“We aim to give voice to under-represented child labour in the lower tiers of the supply chains at the points of production.”
Dr Maryam Lotfi Lecturer in Supply Chain Management

The teaching enhances student’s ability to:

  • understand how child slavery is a risk in many supply chains, especially in lower tiers in developing countries
  • understand and analyse how third-party stakeholders such as NGOs can contribute to the prevention-detection and remediation of child slavery risks in the supply chains
  • develop strategies going forward by investigating how supply chain parent firms can contribute to child slavery risk management in their lower tier suppliers via collaboration with third party stakeholders such as local NGOs

Case studies

During the module, students learn about an NGO called Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) founded by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, a leader in child slavery combat in India.

Students are asked to research some other NGO’s tackling child labour in supply chains. They are asked how they think supply chains can overcome the complexity involved to contribute to prevention, detection, remedy and response in child slavery risk management in lower-tier suppliers at the points of production.