In July-August, 2014, a 29-question global survey titled Conflict Minerals: Help Us Understand Your Challenges was commissioned by AIAG’s Conflict Minerals Work Group (CMWG). The goal of the survey, which was sent to automotive suppliers, was to understand the challenges of conflict minerals reporting for sub-tier suppliers through Tier N. The survey was designed to increase industry-wide understanding of the issues and determine which issues are the most important and what help is needed.
Responses were received from 466 suppliers — a response rate of approximately 25 percent — representing a variety of supplier perspectives.
Examples of survey questions included:
- Which industries does your company supply?
- Is your company requesting conflict mineral data from its suppliers?
- What data collection method do you use to survey your suppliers?
- In 2013, how challenging were the issues in collecting conflict minerals data from your supply chain?
- In 2013, how challenging were the issues in managing conflict minerals customer requests?
- What level of training does your company need related to conflict minerals?
- Which department at your company leads conflict minerals activities?
- What level of support do you get from your company’s executive leadership for conflict minerals activities?
- How many suppliers are you surveying for conflict minerals information?
Nearly 70 percent of respondents collecting data with Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) or equivalent reported the same Top 3 challenges in collecting data from suppliers:
- Did not respond
- Did not respond by due date
- Did not think rule applied
Nearly 70 percent of respondents collecting data with Conflict Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI) Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) or equivalent reported the same Top 3 challenges in providing data to customers:
- Reporting at different levels of detail
- Meeting due dates
- Managing reporting formats
Top comment themes:
- We need help
- Supplier engagement is a challenge
- Customer policies are challenging, inconsistent
- Purchasing and quality are the departments reported most likely to lead CM activities.
- Materials engineering and engineering are the departments experiencing the greatest ease in collecting data.
- A higher level of managerial support is associated with greater ease in collecting data.
- Focusing on Tier N challenges may increase data quality for the whole supply chain.
- Conducting supplier training in local language and time zones has the potential to increase supplier responsiveness.
The CMWG partnered with the Statistical Consulting Center (SCC) at Grand Valley State University for data analysis of the responses. The rationale for commissioning professional analysis included:
- Diversity of supplier demographics
- Complexity of responses
- Credibility of data for internal and public reference
- Usability of data for public presentation
Analysis revealed four limitations of the data:
- The data collected is the result of a convenience sample and by cascading the survey link down the supply chain.
- We cannot generalize the results beyond the survey participants as they may not be representative of the population.
- The total size of the population is unknown, limiting association opportunities within the data.
- The size of the sample was limited in relation to the population size of all companies that reporting for conflict minerals in the automotive industry supply chain.