Our students investigate one company’s sustainability, ethics, and social responsibility

Postgraduate students from the University of Bristol Business School studying unit ‘Sustainability and Ethics in Global Supply Chains’ carried out a mapping exercise using the WikiRate platform, to investigate Tate & Lyle PLC’s sustainability and ethical practices. Below they explain what they did, and what they found out.

Tate & Lyle PLC is a British multinational company specializing in food and beverage ingredients. Our team, comprised of Jingrong Bai, Dongfang Wang, Lavanda Lao, Yiru Yang, Hao Tu, Becca Foster, and Steve Roshan, conducted research on Tate & Lyle’s sustainability and ethical practices using the Wikirate platform. In this report, we highlight our findings, share our experiences using Wikirate, and discuss what we learned throughout the research process.

Jingrong Bai emphasized the importance of sustainability, ethics, and social responsibility as the foundation of a company. She found Wikirate to be an effective platform for organizing data and improving her data collection and analysis skills. However, Jingrong noted that finding literature was difficult, and the final data collection results were not well-preserved or kept confidential, posing a challenge in future research.

Dongfang Wang, who coordinated team members and researched sustainable information relevant to Tate & Lyle, praised Wikirate as an effective platform that benefits both stakeholders and academia. He gained a deep understanding of the impact of accountability on multinational companies and learned to analyze social and environmental performance through sustainability reporting protocols. Nevertheless, Dongfang recognized the inadequacy of the third-party auditing system and worked with the team to identify areas of improvement and implement solutions that promote sustainable practices throughout the supply chain.

Lavanda Lao explored the strategies Tate & Lyle PLC used to screen its new suppliers. She found Wikirate to be a clear and rational analyzing framework, which helped her to understand the requirements for sustainability more comprehensively and systematically. Lavanda noted that Tate & Lyle PLC could do more to improve its operational accountability of sustainability, particularly by exposing more numerical data.

Yiru Yang was part of the team responsible for reporting on Tate & Lyle PLC. She believed that companies need to be proactive in promoting sustainable development based on business ethics and social responsibility. Yiru praised the Wikirate platform for improving the team’s efficiency in sharing information and integrating data, but acknowledged that its data quality, security, and privacy issues can be challenging.

Hao Tu, who was interested in the environmental aspects of corporate sustainability, found that Tate & Lyle has taken an ingenious approach to recycling over 90% of the waste from its current production process. However, when it comes to wastewater treatment, Tate & Lyle does not have much in the way of creative approaches other than improving water efficiency.

Steve Roshan, one of our speakers, found the Wikirate platform’s innovation of involving people from all over the world to conduct research on a central platform impressive. He appreciated the well-thought-out flow of the platform for inputting answers and sources to specific questions and timeframes. Additionally, he believed that the platform could be simplified more.

Becca Foster, previously a geography undergraduate with a keen interest in climate change, helped find solutions for making global corporations more sustainable. Initially, finding data to answer questions about Tate & Lyle was challenging, but with the instruction of Wikirate and other resources, Becca was able to compare social metrics to international frameworks. She was a speaker, created slides on international metrics and conclusions, and helped others struggling to find answers and edit the final presentation.

Through this research project, our team learned to critically analyse the data provided by companies, differentiate between the truth and greenwashing, and recognise the work global organisations are doing to combat climate change. We also recognised the importance of planning ahead, having a clear division of labor, and improving group efficiency in discussions. Good time management and teamwork skills led to a great outcome.

Overall, our team had a positive experience using the Wikirate platform to research Tate & Lyle PLC’s sustainability and ethical practices. Wikirate seeks to improve transparency in business practices by collecting quantifiable data to prevent greenwashing and to make sure companies make substantial progress towards to their net zero targets. We were able to improve our research and analysis skills, learn about the complexities of supply chains, and recognise the need for greater transparency and accountability in corporate sustainability practices.

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