This article, evidently written in something of a hurry by Guardian journalists, shows how the media ought not to report complex issues.
The article says that: “The Body Shop is breaking commercial links with a major palm oil supplier in the wake of disclosures by the Observer that the company had pushed for the eviction of hundreds of peasants in Colombia to develop a new plantation.”
The Guardian has reporters on the ground in Colombia, yet fails to tease out any of the complexities of this difficult situation the Body Shop has found itself in, via a supplier.
The paper also fails to note whether the Body Shop did not respond to inquiries, or whether the journalists simply failed to ask them for comment.
It’s odd that papers like the Guardian, which are still strong in print yet increasingly wayward on the web, sometimes forget the rules of reporting on difficult and complicated issues.
It shows how hard it is to maintain a good reputation in the modern media environment.
No doubt the real back story to the Body Shop in Colombia is worthy of in-depth reporting, but the follow up piece linked above really fails to do that.
A shame, and a good reason for companies to have clear communications prepared on these kinds of supply chain issues for when the media calls.
The media has never been good at reporting fairly on supply chain issues.
For companies, the need to communicate pro-actively, clearly and quickly, is only going to grow.
If you don’t have a supply chain communications plan, now’s the time to be putting one together.
Here’s a link to some slides I put together on the topic, for some retailer training sessions I ran over the summer for 50 member companies of the BSCI with Brendan May, founder of the Robertsbridge Group. (ignore the wrong date on the first slide!). If you are interested in discussing these further, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Some of the leading companies are getting together in a few weeks to talk about how to engage suppliers in ethical issues. More about the meeting is here.)