In recent years, “conflict minerals” have gained the attention of consumers, politicians, and major companies. With the passage of recent mandates, corporations will now need to publish information about conflict mineral use within their business. It will also require mineral suppliers to audit their own supply chains and report any relevant conflict mineral information to purchasers.
The widespread concern about the use of conflict minerals highlights the importance of broader corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies. CSR has become more important to organizations in recent years, especially as they look to implement more sustainable practices; improve social capital in the areas where they conduct business; and simultaneously ensure their brand is protected from negative equity associated with the practice of buying and using conflict minerals.
Regarding conflict minerals, companies can make the choice to avoid purchasing tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold from these regions. This decision can contribute to improving local conditions, refusing to support armed groups, and building a better reputation with consumers.
Suppliers that take the initiative to free their own supply chains of conflict minerals may be able to establish stronger ties with purchasers that are trying to improve social responsibility and make a positive impression on stakeholders and consumers.
Consumers are also increasing their awareness of how companies treat the environment, their workers, and the local populations where manufacturing or mining processes takes place. In turn, they are becoming more discerning when it comes to purchasing products. This trend could have a very real financial impact when one brand offers goods “free from conflict minerals” and a competitor hasn’t taken the same initiative.
New legislation will make it necessary for companies to disclose their conflict mineral use, but for businesses that take extra CSR steps, the new regulations may help to enhance their standing with consumers.
Organizations that take the extra steps to not only adopt the new rules but enforce them within their supply chain may enhance their standing with consumers and relevant pressure groups. For those businesses that have not yet implemented a supply chain risk mitigation strategy, accuracy and timeliness will be essential to monitoring conflict minerals.