The electronics industry trend report, compiled by international aid and development organisation, Baptist World Aid Australia, is the first of its kind for Australia. The report includes a number of big-name brands, including Apple, LG, Microsoft and Samsung. The list also includes three Australian retailers --- Dick Smith, Kogan and Woolworths -- all of which market their own house-brand products.
The idea behind the research is to "educate consumers to shop ethically", with Baptist World Aid advocacy manager Gershon Nimbalker saying the workers that make products deserve to earn a "living wage". According to Nimbalker, 97 percent of the companies surveyed were unable to demonstrate they were paying workers enough to live on.
"We know through our work in the field that payment of a 'living wage' is critical in empowering individuals and communities to overcome poverty and unfortunately Australian brands aren't exempt from this finding either," he said.
"Workers in developing countries work long hours in often oppressive conditions to make the phones, TVs and tablets that we enjoy. The additional cost to ensure that they are rewarded for their efforts with a wage that is sufficient for them and their families to live is only a few dollars per product."
Nokia was the only company able to prove wage credentials in their supply chain; alongside Microsoft and Apple, it attained the report's highest overall 'grade' for ethical sourcing, a B+. HP, Intel, LG, Motorola Mobility and Samsung also scored well, each getting a B for their corporate social responsibility efforts.
At the bottom of the table, Chinese brand Hisense and Australian-owned TV brand Palsonic each scored an F across all major touchpoints, including ethical policies, transparency, monitoring and workers' rights.
In the retail space, Dick Smith and Kogan were both name-checked by Baptist World Aid for their sub-par sourcing policies. Dick Smith scored a D overall (with policies scoring a B and workers' rights graded an F), while Kogan got a D- overall (including F grades in policies, monitoring and workers' rights).
In response to the findings Dick Smith issued a statement saying it was committed to undertaking business in an ethical and environmentally responsible manner" both in Australia and overseas.
We support the contribution that Baptist World Aid is making to ensure electronics companies are upholding labour rights in developing countries, however we believe this report does not fairly represent Dick Smith's current practices.
Dick Smith has policies in place to ensure that our supply chain meets our strong ethical and environmental standards and is committed to working with our suppliers to help improve their labour and environmental practices. These policies, which cover labour rights, a ban on child labour, working conditions and living wages, are summarised in an Ethical Sourcing Policy, which is available online.
Dick Smith expects all suppliers to comply with all aspects of the Dick Smith Ethical Sourcing Policy at all times. Before we accept a product from any factory, an ethical sourcing audit is conducted and the factory must reaffirm their compliance each year, which is assured by sample spot audits.
CNET sought a statement from Kogan, however the company declined to comment.