Electronics for the government in a more responsible manner

Hansel and Finnwatch, a non-governmental organisation focusing on global corporate responsibility, carried out a joint project in 2017 with the aim of promoting the social responsibility of public acquisitions.

The cooperation project is a step towards more responsible public procurement. Finnwatch provided Hansel with expert assistance in the preparation and monitoring of responsibility related criteria for the various stages of a procurement process. The cooperation project was used to pilot the implementation of human rights criteria in public procurement. During the pilot project, the objects of acquisition were computers for the government.

In conjunction with the acquisition, a Code of Conduct, focusing on social responsibility, was prepared. Contract suppliers must follow the code and ensure that the members of its subcontractor chain follow it, too.

“We focus, in particular, on employees’ rights in the subcontractor chains for the computers in risk countries. From the human rights perspective, electronic devices are high-risk products, because they are often manufactured in countries where human rights are not enforced sufficiently”, says Sonja Vartiala, Executive Director for Finnwatch.

“Hansel has been working with responsible procurement for a long time now. Judging by the stakeholder survey, our customers would like us to focus more on social responsibility, which is often found hard to verify. The aim with this project is to generate concrete criteria and reliable verification mechanisms for the assessment of social responsibility in conjunction with products to be acquired”, says Unit Manager Kalle Hietaranta.

The socially responsible procurement process for computers was documented by Finnwatch, and a public report was prepared. The purpose of the project is to distribute best practices to other public purveyors in the government and the municipal sector. The project was funded by the Trade Union Solidarity Centre of Finland (SASK), and Kepa.

The human rights impact of public procurement reaches far beyond Finnish borders.

The value of the public acquisitions made in Finland is over €30 billion per year, and the human rights impact of public procurement reaches far beyond Finnish borders.

“Hansel’s agreements are used in computer purchases totalling over €40 million a year in value. As a significant public purveyor, we can specify challenging requirements for our tendering competitions”, says Tero Lehtisaari, the category manager in charge of IT purchases at Hansel.

Hansel also promotes the consideration of social responsibility in other framework agreements. Another pilot project, the preparation of the tendering competition for the framework agreement for office furnishings, was begun in early 2018.