Samsung optimizes costs and promotes synergy to ensure economic sustainability, mandates adherence to international regulations and transparency for social sustainability and insists on only working with certified Eco-Partners the world over. The company works relentlessly to help its suppliers achieve growth according to the belief that Samsung’s success is rooted in the competitiveness of its suppliers at every level.
Selection of Suppliers
Samsung evaluates prospective suppliers based on criteria that include EHS (environment, health and safety), labor and human rights, and Eco-Partner standing. After a company passes the initial screening, in-house experts in each category are deployed to conduct on-site assessments of the prospective supplier. Companies are required to comply with regulations regarding the handling of chemicals of concern, bans on discrimination and inhumane treatment and social and environmental impact, among others.
An open-sourcing program is used to allow companies to apply to become Samsung suppliers. The International Procurement Center (IPC) and Global Supplier Relationship Management System (G-SRM) accept submissions from organizations that want to propose use of their components or materials for Samsung products. Samsung’s IPCs are additionally present in strategically significant locations all over the world to monitor regional technology trends and identify potential suppliers. These methods allow Samsung to ensure that its supply chain remains competitive, as well as sustainable.
Once new suppliers are brought on-board, Samsung looks to heighten transparency by disclosing its list of suppliers with their consent. From there, procurement operations are managed by an integrated procurement system. The company requires suppliers to adhere to the Samsung Supplier Code of Conduct, which ensures that they operate in accordance with local laws and regulations, while helping them maintain responsible management of their working environments.
Samsung performs in-depth supplier evaluations annually. During these evaluations, suppliers’ competitiveness and ability to maintain sustainability are measured using eight evaluation criteria: technology, quality, responsiveness, delivery, cost, EHS, finance, and law. Several methods are employed in the evaluation of suppliers, including on-site inspection and the review of previously uploaded data. Evaluations are carried out on an ongoing basis throughout the year, allowing suppliers to monitor their performance along the way. In 2018 Samsung evaluated 91% of its total suppliers, with those who had been registered with the company for less than a year excluded from evaluation. The company also requires all primary suppliers to complete annual self-assessments according to 85 criteria set out by the RBA (Responsible Business Alliance), of which Samsung is a member.
Samsung also conducts both on-site and third-party audits of its suppliers. On-site audits are led by RBA auditors, and conducted by dedicated teams who interview suppliers’ employees and examine their workplaces. After the audit is carried out, Samsung devises final improvement tasks, which are expected to be completed within 30 days. Applying the same criteria as the RBA, Samsung achieved a compliance rate of 91% for on-site audits in 2018, and the company is making further efforts to continue lifting that number. Also in 2018, Samsung drastically increased the number of third-party supplier audits, especially in the Southeast Asian region, where some concerns around working environments had been raised. Despite the significant increase in the number of third party audits in 2018, compliance rates were relatively consistent with those from 2017, implying that efforts to improve suppliers’ working environments had been successful.
Samsung charges first-tier suppliers with the evaluation of their relevant sub-suppliers, making them responsible for evaluating working conditions and ensuring compliance. Samsung has developed and distributed a safe management guidance to first-tier suppliers that assists them in evaluating the environmental and health and safety performance of lower-tier suppliers. First-tier suppliers are held accountable for ensuring a safe working environment at lower-tier suppliers and honestly reflecting the outcome of evaluations.