The Future of Ethical Manufacturing – Q&A with Carmel Giblin, President and CEO of ICTI CARE

2 March 2015

The U.S. Toy Industry Association recently spoke with Carmel Giblin to discuss her key objectives as she begins her new role as head of the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) CARE Foundation. As President and CEO, Giblin will lead the development and improvement of the ICTI CARE Process, which was established in 2003 to ensure a safe and fair workplace environment for toy factory workers around the world. Here’s what she had to say…

TIA: Carmel, how does your previous work experience as CEO of Sedex, and prior to that, your role as head of corporate responsibility at BSkyB, prepare you for your new position at ICTI CARE?

CG: For those who don’t know, Sedex is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to improving ethical and responsible business practices in global supply chains, and BSkyB is the leading home entertainment and communications provider in the Europe. My work experience at both firms has given me a good understanding about the pressures experienced by manufacturers of all sizes, across all sectors, and in all parts of the supply chain. Particularly at Sedex, I grew to understand the many demands made on companies to comply with standards. These demands are growing rapidly, whether they are coming from consumers, government, or NGOs. Everyone is looking for products that are made with respect for the needs of factory workers and the planet as a whole. Consumers in particular have very high expectations for this … and ICTI CARE works toward ensuring that factories and manufacturers are able to meet that demand.

TIA: What do you see in the ICTI CARE process that can be improved?

CG: Over the past 10 years, ICTI CARE has evolved into a well-established, internationally recognized certification system that has not only created a compliance auditing organization, but has also become a leader in worker education and training. There were issues related to the toy sector that received negative media attention several years ago, but these issues have decreased markedly, partly because ICTI CARE exists and has done such a great job.

Though it is in good shape, ICTI CARE needs to evolve and meet the ever-changing needs of retailers, manufacturers, and brands. This is an exciting prospect for me – discovering what we can do to build on past successes to create an even stronger future for the program. For example, ICTI CARE has largely focused on fair labor practices. Perhaps going forward, a new area of focus would be environmental sustainability, especially as many businesses now consider this to be a critical element of the buying decision.

At the end of the day, we need to make sure that consumers can purchase toys from ICTI CARE-certified factories with confidence, and that these toys are manufactured to the highest of ethical standards. Consumers trust in their favorite brands – and ICTI CARE is there to make sure that this trust is well-placed.

TIA: What will your first objectives be?

CG: My priority in the first couple of months is to get out and meet the worldwide trade associations, retailers, and manufacturers that support ICTI CARE. I live in London but ICTI CARE has offices in New York, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen, so I will be traveling between those offices and visiting with important retail and manufacturing communities, including those in Latin America, to better understand the opportunities and needs in those areas so that we can further globalize the program.

I also want to build strong relationships with the NGO community so ICTI CARE can ensure it is aware of and responding to emerging issues in the toy industry supply chain.

While meeting with the various constituents, I will pose various questions, including: what do they need ICTI CARE to deliver? How well has the program been meeting their needs? What are they looking for in the future? I’m not from the toy industry so I’m looking forward to learning more about the industry and its needs … and then quickly responding to them. We operate in an environment that’s changing very quickly and we need to be flexible and agile as an organization so that we can respond to changing needs.

The mission of the ICTI CARE Process is to enable the worldwide children’s products industry to ensure that its products are manufactured in an environment of the highest standards of safety and humane conditions. As a not-for-profit operation, the ICTI CARE Process works to share best practices in effective factory monitoring and capacity building in an open and transparent manner. More information about the program is available at www.icti-care.org.

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