HP Champions Workers’ Rights through Implementing Updated Student and Dispatch Worker Guidelines

Bob Mitchell is the Global Manager, HP Supply Chain Social & Environmental Responsibility.

Earlier this year, Hewlett-Packard made headlines when it introduced its “HP Student and Dispatch Worker Guidance Standard for Supplier Facilities in the People’s Republic of China.” The first of its kind in the industry, the guideline document equips HP suppliers with a roadmap for the responsible management of these important workers.  HP is excited to publicly release an updated version of these guidelines, developed and evolved from key lessons learned within HP and from non-profit partners, industry peers, suppliers and other stakeholders over the past few months.  In order to implement and improve the guidelines, HP established regular collection of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and held public roundtables, supplier training sessions and on-site assessments at key facilities.  This work with stakeholders allowed HP to glean important feedback for the latest guideline revision.

Specifically, the guidelines include directives for the recruitment, management and treatment of student and dispatch workers, for example:

  • All student and dispatch work must be voluntary.
  • Student workers may discontinue internships without penalty.
  • National and local regulations must be followed or exceeded.
  • Number of student workers must be limited.
  • Student work must complement the students’ primary area of study.
  • Dispatch workers shall only be used for temporary, auxiliary or substitute job positions.
  • Dispatch and student workers should be paid at a similar rate as full-time, entry-level workers.
  • Supplier facilities that do not comply with the guidelines will be required to execute corrective action plans.

Developed and evolved in consultation with Chinese stakeholders, including the Center for Child Rights and Corporate Social Responsibility and the Labour Education Services Network, HP updated its guidelines to dispel potential ambiguities (such as internship agreement terms and financial penalties), refine concept definitions, normalize expectations with industry peers and align with expert opinions on best practices to facilitate industry adoption.  In fact, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) has already formed a task force – co-led by HP representatives – whose work will consider appropriate integration of these standards into EICC code and auditing standards as well as developing management system-based standards for suppliers to adopt.

Additionally, the guidelines are serving as a platform for HP to facilitate broader awareness in China about these workers’ rights. Already this year, HP organized two Supplier Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) Summits to foster public discussion around the topic and drive positive change across the electronics industry as a whole.  Held in March and June, participants from more than 70 suppliers, along with government representatives, vocational school representatives and labor and student rights NGOs, gathered to discuss the responsible management of student and dispatch workers in China and share opinions and best practices.  Some observations from these SER Summits include:

  • “We found that the education in vocational schools didn’t meet the requirement of factories… We are providing training in vocational schools to help them make realistic expectations, and we are planning to produce a list of vocational schools which we recommend the factories to cooperate with.” – So Sheung, Chief Executive from LESN
  • “The Education Bureau has five recommendations for managing internships: Firstly, the factories should pay more attention to the internship; second, to create an effective team to manage the students…; thirdly, to enhance the capacity of frontline managers; fourth, to revise regulations to make them more clear…; finally, to…provide special protection for [student workers].” – Mr. Kui Jianxun, Director of Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Education

Protecting student and dispatch workers is just one part of HP’s overall commitment to social responsibility within our supply chain, the tenets of which are outlined in the company’s Global Citizenship Report. HP maintains high standards because of its overarching philosophy that building the world’s best supply chain means being mindful of social responsibility while still driving cost savings and efficiency.

And with one of the industry’s largest and most complex supply chains – including more than 1,000 production suppliers and tens of thousands of nonproduction suppliers, spanning six continents and 45 countries – HP has the chance to make a huge impact by enforcing these high standards.  In continuing to assess, implement and refine supplier guidelines, HP is making strides in the protection of workers’ human rights around the world.