Automotive companies to take an example from the electronics industry

None of the ten largest automotive companies (Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen) consider the human rights impacts of the mining of their metals as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. These companies are at risk of being linked to grave human rights violations. These are the main findings in SOMO’s paper (February 2010) 'Driven by responsibility? Top ten car manufacturers – A CSR analysis'. While the urgent need to address such issues is recognized by other industries, such as the electronics industry, automotive companies have remained passive until now. Many car manufacturers gave a reaction on this report.

Automotive companies to take an example from the electronics industry

None of the ten largest automotive companies (Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Suzuki, Toyota and Volkswagen) consider the human rights impacts of the mining of their metals as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts. These companies are at risk of being linked to grave human rights violations. These are the main findings in SOMO’s paper (February 2010) 'Driven by responsibility? Top ten car manufacturers – A CSR analysis'. While the urgent need to address such issues is recognized by other industries, such as the electronics industry, automotive companies have remained passive until now. Many car manufacturers gave a reaction on this report.

In contrast to the automotive industry, companies in the electronics industry are increasingly committing themselves to addressing the issues in this phase of their supply chains. This industry is currently undertaking mapping exercises to determine the origin of the metals they use, and first steps are being taken towards a certification scheme for some metals. While these efforts have not yet resulted in concrete improvements for workers and communities around such mines, they indicate that this industry is increasingly recognizing its responsibility for the entire supply chain. Automakers could collaborate with the electronics industry in these efforts. The combined market shares of the two industries are significant and this combined market power can potentially contribute to more sustainable mining practices.

As part of the makeITfair campaign, SOMO has been calling on the electronics industry since 2007 to take responsibility for conditions at mining sites. There is currently a lot of momentum around the issues in the eastern DR Congo (DRC), where the mineral resources that end up in electronic products fuel the ongoing civil war. The electronics industry is taking the first, careful steps towards a certification scheme of metals from the DRC. SOMO has called on other industries such as the automotive sector to join such efforts.  In the publication Driven by Corporate Social Responsibility? Top ten car manufacturers – A CSR analysis, you can read more about this call.

A large roundtable will be held in Washington DC in May 2010, where several industries will come together with international civil society to discuss future initiatives. While SOMO applauds that efforts are undertaken towards more sustainable sourcing of metals, it also believes that there should be a more inclusive role for local stakeholders by designing and implementation of these initiatives. To provide a platform for local stakeholders to discuss the steps that need to be taken with the international players, SOMO will organize a roundtable in the Democratic Republic Congo in fall 2010. This roundtable will bring together a wide range of local stakeholders with representatives of electronics and car companies, and their supply chains.