Becoming a Supplier to The Home Depot

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Why become a supplier to The Home Depot?

A supplier to The Home Depot enjoys the benefits of a consistent, high-volume purchaser. As the largest home improvement retailer in the United States, The Home Depot represents a vast opportunity for suppliers that meet the company’s requirements.

This opportunity comes with competition. Home Depot has used its purchasing power laudably, in driving up environmental and social sourcing standards. As described on its corporate responsibility page, The Home Depot’s “environmental, social and governance strategy is centered on three key pillars: focusing on our people, operating sustainably and strengthening our communities.” In line with these values, The Home Depot requires suppliers to adhere to firm and ever-increasing standards referenced in the company’s governance documents.

This article will focus on The Home Depot’s Social and Environmental Responsibility Standards (SER) and how a supplier can fully comply.

What are the requirements to sell to The Home Depot?

To sell to The Home Depot, a supplier must demonstrate compliance with the social and environmental standards established by the retailer. It is the goal of The Home Depot to work with factories that are transparent and committed to continuous improvement in quality and in social and environmental practices. A factory’s business relationship with The Home Depot may be terminated if it fails in transparency and monitoring or fails to actively remediate outstanding compliance issues.

A supplier must start by developing a solid product. Once certain prerequisites are confirmed, the supplier is ready to begin applying to become a Home Depot supplier.

Supplier requirements can be found in The Home Depot’s Social and Environmental Responsibility (SER) Supplier Manual. Suppliers may find a condensed version focusing on corporate values and principles here. An exhaustive version setting forth procedures and requirements for approval may be accessed here.

The SER Supplier Manual describes The Home Depot’s social and environmental standards as they apply to suppliers. It outlines in an organized way, and with ample illustrations, how a supplier can get approved, demonstrate compliance, and partner with the company for ongoing social and environmental improvement. The manual applies to suppliers to The Home Depot as well as individual factories.

The manual contains some legal language, including commonsense statements about adhering to the local laws. But the bulk of the document is comprised of practical, step-by-step instructions on how to attain compliance. These requirements will help qualify a supplier, will be included in any commercial agreement with The Home Depot, and will be the basis of ongoing monitoring as the supplier-client relationship continues and, potentially, expands.

The SER standard covers:

  1. Laws and Regulations
  2. Child Labor
  3. Forced Labor
  4. Harassment and Abuse
  5. Compensation
  6. Hours of Work
  7. Non-Discrimination
  8. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  9. Health and Safety
  10. Environment
  11. Subcontracting
  12. Communication
  13. Business Ethics
  14. Monitoring and Compliance

The manual defines the responsibilities of individual factories as well as suppliers (which may represent multiple factories). For example, a supplier must report all factories used in production for The Home Depot. A supplier must provide The Home Depot with an up-to-date list of all factories used for The Home Depot products so that the company can approve them. All factories must be approved by The Home Depot before producing for the company.

How to comply with Home Depot’s requirements

A factory audit is an ideal measure to verify the compliance level of the factory against The Home Depot’s SER requirements. Fully complying with these standards may be challenging for some factories, so Pro QC recommends the following steps to ensure compliance:

  • Perform a factory audit to assess the factory’s conformance level to The Home Depot SER standard.
  • Develop a corrective action plan according to the result of the audit

The SER Manual sets forth monitoring and compliance requirements for suppliers. As part of this monitoring, The Home Depot will make announced and unannounced on-site audits of factories. Suppliers must maintain production and personnel records and allow The Home Depot access to production areas as well as provide workers for confidential interviews.

Noncompliance with the SER standards may be discovered in an initial supplier qualification or during ongoing monitoring. The SER Manual attests that The Home Depot will encourage remediating a supplier nonconformance whenever possible. It also encourages suppliers to actively engage in preparing and implementing a Corrective And Preventative Action (CAPA) plan in response to the gaps. A supplier that does not remediate out of unwillingness to comply with the SER Manual may end up having its business relationship with The Home Depot terminated.

Vendor Compliance Solutions from Pro QC

Pro QC offers audit services based on The Home Depot SER standard and code of conduct to help companies comply with the retailer’s requirements. Our vendor compliance page outlines the vendor compliance program and Pro QC’s suite of services to successfully undergo this process. The process may include a series of targeted factory compliance audits structured against the retailer’s specific requirements. As an external quality assurance partner, Pro QC will assist with initial qualification as well as ongoing supplier performance management. Depending on the gaps identified, Pro QC may assist in developing a corrective/preventive action plan, provide supplier quality assurance consulting and training, and monitor the effectiveness of the corrective actions.

About Us

Since 1984, Pro QC has supported companies in becoming suppliers of large retailers such as Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes, Costco, and many more.

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