On 8 June 2009, Dutch service provider KPN organised a stakeholder dialogue meeting, together with the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO). SOMO was among the participants, together with KPN staff representing different divisions, including procurement managers, the director hardware and the CSR manager. KPN suppliers Alcatel Lucent, Nokia and Philips were also present, as well as representatives of the Dutch government in charge of sustainable procurement.

Up for discussion was KPN’s recently developed Supplier Code of Conduct. SOMO commented that although the code refers to relevant ILO standards as well as to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, what is required of KPN’s suppliers should be phrased more specifically.

Furthermore, KPN has only recently started to share the code with its suppliers. Planning for auditing the implementation of the code is still in an even more premature stage. KPN diagnosed some of its suppliers with a certain ‘code fatigue’. These suppliers have to live up to dozens of different codes and some of them start becoming reluctant to adopt yet a new, slightly differently phrased code. This observation induced KPN to consider to adapt its policy, possibly by amending its code and/or by joining the EICC -the sustainability initiative of the electronics industry-, and to adopt the EICC code of conduct. SOMO pointed out that even the EICC code is not yet up-to-standard. Especially when it comes to freedom of association and collective bargaining, the EICC code is lacking. KPN supplier Philips has supplemented the EICC code with some additional clauses.

It remains to be seen how KPN will use its recent experiences and the gathered insights to improve the content and process of its supplier’s code. It is clear that KPN still has a long way to go.