On 23 May, Flex Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility (CSER) Manager, Ms Sarah Albert, and Flex CSER Intern, Mr Joerg Seeger, were invited to speak as part of the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences (DHSS) Lecture Series.

Ms Albert and Mr Seeger talking about responsible mineral sourcing

Ms Albert and Mr Seeger presented the audience with information regarding the minerals used to produce electronics, such as digital cameras and smartphones. Their presentation exposed the harsh conditions under which some of these minerals are sourced, namely in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding African countries in the Great Lakes Region, where numerous conflicts and humanitarian crises are still taking place.

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Dr Monaco presents a souvenir to Mr Seeger and Ms Albert

The presentation also covered the regulations that have been put in place to increase ethical sourcing such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation (OECD) guidelines and the Dodd-Frank Act, adopted in the United States in 2010. These serve to deter the unethical sourcing of conflict minerals through increased transparency and due diligence along companies’ supply chains.

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This talk was part of the DHSS Lecture Series

Ms Albert also explained how Flex, a Fortune 500 company and leader in the electronics manufacturing sector worldwide, handles its compliance for international ethical sourcing schemes.

During the Q&A session, students asked questions concerning existing monitoring practices, and what it means to be a conflict mineral. Government and International Relations (GIR) Programme Director, Dr Edoardo Monaco, closed the lecture by posing two questions to students in the audience. The first question being if the students care where the minerals in their phones come from and the second question is if they would be willing to pay higher prices for products if that ensured that companies employ sustainable practices throughout their whole supply chains.

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Dr Monaco poses two questions to the students to think about

The lecture made the students think about where their products are coming from and helped to highlight the unethical supply chain currently in place to create electronics.

Reporter: Elizabeth Rodewald (GIR)
Photographer: Wang Haochen (Y1, GIR)
Editors: Samuel Burgess, Samantha Burns (MPRO)