Fast Company recently reported that Intel, a giant electronics manufacturer that purchases minerals in bulk from suppliers, has committed to making every microprocessor with conflict-free minerals. This is a significant step to ensuring that the minerals used to produce their microprocessors are not contributing to the armed conflicts and human rights abuses that plague regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its neighbors.
CEO Brian Krzanich says that “that having conflict-free microprocessors won’t add any costs to Intel’s products, a lot of pricey travel and manpower has gone into the effort” to audit its smelters and ensure they weren’t using minerals that are fought over in the Democratic Republic of Congo and surrounding countries.
[Krzanich’s] gut reaction was to just ditch sources from the DRC and nearby countries and rely instead on conflict-free regions. But the supply chain team quickly decided that wasn’t the right approach; it would eliminate a key source of income for local residents. Instead, Intel took the more difficult road, supporting conflict-free sources within the region. In 2012, the company committed to only manufacturing conflict-free microprocessors by the end of 2013.
For more information on conflict minerals, read about the Enough Project.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs are often merely exercises in public relations, which is why Intel’s move stands out from the pack. Krzanich has taken Intel’s social responsibility so seriously that he has integrated it into Intel’s core business instead of just slapping on an external CSR program (i.e. volunteer fairs, blood drives, etc), which would have been much easier. This is an example of what it looks like to be authentically values-centric, particularly within the context of supplier relationships.