nguyen_twitterTam Nguyen is the Global Head of Sustainability at Bechtel Corporation. He leads the overall implementation of Bechtel’s sustainability strategy and serves as a principal advisor for a range of global sustainability issues, policies, and standards. Tam also serves as Vice Chair of the Corporate Responsibility Committee of the U.S. Council for International Business, and is Executive Officer of the Foundation for the Niger Delta Partnership Initiative of Chevron Corporation. Prior to joining Bechtel, he was Manager for Corporate Responsibility at Chevron where he developed and directed implementation of Chevron’s human rights policy. He also concurrently served as Chair of the Social Responsibility Working Group of IPIECA, a global oil and gas association.

Christopher P. Skroupa: Are regulatory measures, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, a panacea for solving labor and human rights issues?

Tam Nguyen: A smart mix of government policies–with sufficient capacities to implement them–together with company processes and programs are steps in the right direction. Labor and human rights in supply chains can be expansive and complex. A philosophy of engagement that involves both companies and other stakeholders, including multi-stakeholder initiatives, can improve this issue by building a community of interest around systemic changes.

Skroupa: Who is responsible for establishing and ensuring these rights?

Nguyen: While governments have the primary responsibility for protecting human rights, companies can play a positive role by implementing the right policies, which should include relevant expectations and requirements, identification of material issues, clarifying roles and responsibilities, due diligence and resolution processes, and continuous improvement opportunities.

Skroupa: Is there a way to measure the effectiveness of comprehensive labor and human rights supply chain management? How far is far enough?

Nguyen: Yes, if baselines are developed early–with clear and measurable goals–metrics can depict a basic view of labor and human rights supply chain management. In addition to this, a focus on specific interventions can be a practical and useful way to measure effectiveness, communicate processes, and drive continuous improvement. Collecting data and measuring effectiveness across entire supply chains can be complicated as there are issues of attribution that can be difficult to address.

Skroupa: What are the risks involved with poor supply chain management?

Nguyen: Poor supply chain management can affect the safety and security of workers and trigger operational, legal, financial and reputational risks for companies.

Skroupa: What are the latent opportunities that lie in supply chain management of labor and human rights?

Nguyen: When data and analytics are applied, key trends can be identified, such as worker sentiment and the various factors affecting them. These indications can assist management to anticipate potential issues and stay informed, in order to make proactive decisions and corrective changes. Furthermore, data sets can be stored and analyzed to drive future systemic changes, such as updating policies or collaborating with key suppliers to develop innovative processes.