For many of us, the origin of a product is an essential factor in our purchasing decision. Consumers rightfully care about how and by whom a product has been produced. They are not only asking questions to the brand presenting them with the final product, but also to all those suppliers behind the brand that made it possible for them to get the latter.

Engaging suppliers is a top priority for The Coca-Cola Company. The company understood from the start that it needed to have its suppliers onboard for a journey toward greater transparency. A journey that is mutually beneficial for the company and its suppliers to share best practices, identify gaps and find remedies to ensure an alignment at all levels of respect for human and workplace rights.

Through this lens, The Coca-Cola Company has developed a set of programs for different actors across its supply chain to help ensure greater visibility of respect for human rights. One of these initiatives is the Pass It Back program, which helps improve workplace practices by passing the values back through the supply chain. Through a collaborative approach, Pass It Back enables suppliers to demonstrate leadership within the Coca-Cola system.

Pass It Back comes in a form of a toolkit document or eligible suppliers that helps to ensure alignment of policies and due diligence measures and requests transparent reporting of compliance performance. 

Early on, some suppliers expressed interest in being part of the program, including one of the company’s key packaging suppliers, WestRock Company. As an early adopter and by partnering with the company and other key customers, WestRock has been able to advance more rapidly in specific areas to achieve greater visibility of respect for human and workplace rights.

“Since our inception, the values that drive our success—Integrity, Respect, Accountability and Excellence—have served as the foundation of our engagements with customers, co-workers, stockholders, suppliers and the communities where we live and work,” Christopher Campolongo, director, supply chain compliance & sustainability at WestRock says. “Working with The Coca-Cola Company and other key customers was a big step forward in advancing our journey to achieve end to end visibility of respect for human rights.”

WestRock is also highly engaged in helping Coca-Cola deliver against its 2020 Sustainable Agriculture commitment through pulp and paper sourcing. Coca-Cola is targeting a more sustainable supply for pulp and paper that goes into primary and secondary packaging. WestRock’s “FridgePack” innovation is a key example of branded secondary packaging.

The Coca-Cola Company believes that this collective and collaborative approach is the way forward toward greater transparency across its system. Combining and unifying efforts with its suppliers is enabling the company to start seeing positive results and inspiring improvements. Suppliers are now more aware of and committed to meeting The Coca-Cola Company’s expectations regarding respect for human rights.

Nadia Soussi is a 2016 summer intern at The Coca-Cola Company and a Youth Delegate of Tunisia at the 2016 International Human Rights Summit