Ikea and Sustainability

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IWAY…right way?

IKEA is to furniture what Wal-Mart is to food: a supermarket whose strategy is primarily based on low prices. As a group project, I worked on Wal-Mart and was astounded by the negative image associated with the company. IKEA seems to stand at the other end of the spectrum in people's mind. Newsweek once released an article nicknaming the Swedish Company, the "Teflon multinational," one to which social criticism does not stick. Does IKEA deserve its positive aura? How to explain the discrepancy in public opinion with other giants such as Wal-Mart, Playtex or Nike? These questions were the starting point of my work. I watched videos, read press articles, case studies, and corporate reports. As one would expect from any multinational company, IKEA donates to charity (WWF, UNICEF, Save the children…) and also works hand-in-hand with non profit organizations (Forest Stewardship Council, Global Compact, even Greenpeace). But what drew my attention most was the code of conduct that they established in 2001 and is at the core of the relationship with their suppliers. The IKEA way, or IWAY as it is called, is the subject of this report. I shall begin with an overall description of IWAY: content, target audience, process for auditing and reporting… I then investigate three topics that – to me- are key to the effectiveness of the code of conduct: level of requirements, level of reporting and intensity of auditing. Finally, I reflect on the initial subject I have chosen and whether it is fully in line with IKEA's low price strategy.
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