Great focus has been placed internationally on company values and good corporate governance at a time where there is a surge of deception, corruption and bribery across the global industry companies, and the companies that succeed in the global market are those that set themselves apart with great focus on exceptional good governance and the highest possible values in business.
When dealing with customers that serve such large international markets, it is fitting that they find suppliers that subscribe to the same business ethics and philosophies of integrity and truth. It is for this reason that Astrapak welcomed the ethical audit that was conducted in their business, Marcom Plastics.
The URSA “Understanding Responsible Sourcing Audit” includes assessment of the facility’s practices in Labour Standards, Health and Safety, Human Rights, Business Integrity, Environmental Management and Land Tenure Rights.
The audit was undertaken over four days with a large team placing great focus and extreme attention to detail in evaluating that ethics are in place and that all activities within the daily operations are above board, while they interviewed staff relating to certain issues, working hours and salaries amongst other items, as well as looking at supplier evaluation and selection.
According to Marcom Plastics’ SHEQ Manager, Gert van der Berg, the last time an URSA was conducted at Marcom Plastics was in 2009 and those results were not taken into consideration at all and deemed null and void from the onset of the audit. Starting on a clean state, Marcom Plastics emerged with flying colours and their incredible scorecard revealed only four findings. “The market norm for other companies in the same business environment (manufacturing) outside of Astrapak is normally 40 and above,” said Van der Berg.
Gerhard van Reenen, General Manager at Marcom Plastics, explained that the ethics of the factory is not just a system, but also a way of life. “We firmly believe that you have to practice what you preach and it's a business culture here at Marcom Plastics. There is no start and end date to operating the business ethically. We don't just put an instruction page on the wall, but we try and live it and share with the team. Our best asset is our employees – anyone can buy new equipment but what differentiates us from our competitors is the human factor.”
Marcom Plastics carries various accreditations, such as Food Safety (ISO22000 and FSSC220000), Health & Safety (OHSAS 18001) and Environmental Management (ISO14001). When a recent external audit by a blue chip customer was carried out with the independent Global Moulding Solutions, Marcom Plastics were the first company to be internationally recognised as a preferred supplier and not just an approved supplier. This all contributed to the eventual outcome of the audit.
“The systems are in place but they are only as good as the people who run it,” said Van der Berg. “Every single person in Marcom Plastics is on board.”
Marcom Plastics is passionate about training their staff in all aspects, and the process is on going and happens on a weekly basis. “It is very important that we empower people to do what needs to be done,” continued Van der Berg. “We don’t only focus on internal training, but we invest in external training as well. Transparency is very important to us, we carry this out in our business operations every day.”
The Team at Marcom Plastics strives to be the best team in South Africa, and not just the best team amongst their sister companies within the Astrapak Group. “It is not negotiable to just pass an audit, or to achieve an 80% score,” said Van Reenen. “We want to be the best in South Africa and we measure ourselves against international competitors as well. We want to be the “preferred” supplier and not just an “approved” supplier.”