Gaining insight into impact is in many ways the next frontier in supply chain accountability. Companies working to promote responsible practices need ways to track the effects their programs are having, both to determine whether problems are in fact being solved (and resources well spent), and to identify ways to improve existing programming. With demands for more and better transparency from companies on their supply chain efforts, the need to demonstrate authentic impact grows. Evaluation of social impact can be difficult to do well, however, particularly where programs are multi-dimensional and ongoing, and attribution of observed changes to particular interventions is not straightforward.
The 2014-2015 Progress Report on Philip Morris International’s Agricultural Labor Practices (ALP) program, released this spring, demonstrates an approach to scaled reduction of child labor that is notable for its breadth, depth and thoughtfulness. Any effort to address child labor in a supply chain as massive as PMI’s requires recognition that progress is possible, but it will take a long time, substantial resources and continued commitment.