BLC Leather Technology

Social Auditing

Social Auditing

BLC can now offer social auditing and ethical auditing in line with SA8000. We can also provide advice and pre-audit support if required.

The purpose of Social Auditing systems is to ascertain whether and to what extent a company conforms to a set of guidelines associated with corporate social responsibility (CSR). Although the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been in existence for over 60 years there is yet to be universal implementation of some of the concepts.

Businesses are responsible for their activities and must ensure that they take responsibility both for those impacts that they directly control, for example in their own operations, as well as those that they may only be able to influence, such as those in the supply chain.

Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable about social issues and are starting to make more discriminating decisions about their purchasing practices, based on more than just price and quality.

Businesses that take a reactive approach to ethical issues leave themselves open to criticism and potential loss of reputation. This is not simply a hypothetical scenario; there have been, and continue to be, several high profile cases where companies have been found to have in their supply chain, suppliers or sub-suppliers who abuse the international humans rights norms of their workers or the national labour laws of the countries within which they are operating.

There are several schemes and organisations that have been developed to assess the CSR performance of companies, among them The Fair Labour Association, Ethical Trading Initiative and Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP).

One of the more stringent is the SA8000 standard which is the standard against which BLC auditors are trained. SA8000 incorporates nine elements - Child Labour, Forced and Compulsory Labour, Health and Safety, Freedom of Association & Right to Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Disciplinary Practices, Working Hours, Remuneration and Management Systems. SA8000 is verifiable through an evidence-based process. Its requirements apply universally regardless of a company’s size, geographic location or industry sector. As is the case with most auditing standards compliance with both national legislation and the standard are required and where there is a difference the more strict interpretation applies. The audit requires unhindered interview of a representative, cross sectional sample of the workers within an organisation, so the duration and cost of the audit is related to the size of the company.

The aim of the SA8000 social auditing standard is not simply to attain a level of performance, it requires the holder to improve working conditions; for example by increasing wages, removing discrimination, providing freedom of association, improving health and safety etc. Whilst SA8000 may be aspirational for many companies it is important to ensure that the principles of corporate social responsibility are understood and that companies implement practices that both benefit their workers and protect and enhance their reputation.

For further information about our social auditing services please contact info@blcleathertech.com or +44 (0) 1604 679999.

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