"IMPACT OF COVID-19
COVID-19 continued to create challenges for Wesfarmers’ suppliers in the 2021 financial year with flow-on impacts for the Group’s divisional ethical sourcing programs.
In response to significant second waves of COVID-19 in supplier countries, Wesfarmers’ divisions provided support to team members and suppliers in those countries, through training webinars and sharing best practices to assist in their efforts to comply with government COVID safe workplace safety guidelines.
Wesfarmers has continued to engage fairly with suppliers, and this included maintaining orders to ensure business continuity. In some cases of supplier hardship, early access to payments was offered, acknowledging the critical role suppliers play in helping Wesfarmers’ businesses meet the needs of customers.
Divisions recognised there would be delays or difficulties in scheduling ethical sourcing audits during periods of lockdown and travel restrictions, such as in India and Bangladesh, and adopted alternative approaches to audits and used Sedex Virtual Assessments to conduct audits. It is acknowledged that virtual audits do not provide the same insights as in-person audits. While the number of suppliers audited across the Group in the 2021 financial year reduced to 1,475 (2020: 1,819) the divisions maintained their audit programs, with the intent of safeguarding the rights of factory workers and to identify suppliers who may use COVID-19 as an opportunity to exploit vulnerable workers."