SGS Assists Companies Wishing to Audit Against the New Global Social Compliance Programme
Submitted by: SGS Consumer Testing Services
(OPENPRESS) December 18, 2010 -- Until now, many companies have had to submit to repeated auditing around core ILO conventions, with slight variations in content or audit methodology. This has resulted in a significant duplication of effort for many producers, who have as a result had less time to address audit outcomes. For many producers there has been no way to address this situation, as customers have generally not been prepared to accept audits conducted according to conventions other than their own.
In a joint effort to improve the situation, major retailers met in 2007 to discuss a Unified Code of best practices for supply chain labour standards (http://www.sustainability.sgs.com/consumergoods/social-resp.htm). What was to become the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP) began through the cooperation of Tesco, Wal-Mart, Migros, Metro and Carrefour, and soon expanded. Today the number of manufacturers, retailers, service providers and related stakeholders involved in development of the GSCP is constantly growing. These providers are cooperating to ensure that the delivery of a platform for continuous improvement in working and environmental conditions via a sustainable, globally accepted means.
Being fully inclusive, the programme allows both for direct adoption of the code and its tools or for companies to implement their own code using the given criteria. A range of existing programmes have contributed to the ethical codes used by the GSCP participants. These have included the Initiative Clause Sociale (ICS), Ehtical Trading Initiative (ETI) and Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI). In moving from these existing code preferences to those given in the GSCP, participating companies aim to:
• Achieve consensus on the delivery of best practices
• Minimise audit duplication and fatigue
• Ensure the creation of a global message for suppliers that is consistent and easily understood
• Build transparency between existing systems in order to promote their convergence
• Ensure that production and training capacities are strengthened through collaborative effort
GSCP Brings New Code and Tools
After three years of development, a number of tools and a reference code have been published by the GSCP. Along with coverage of auditor competence, labour standards and environmental management (http://www.sustainability.sgs.com/consumergoods/ecodesign.htm), the tools include a benchmarking methodology for companies to compare their existing codes to the GSCP tools. Data Sharing, Remediation and Management Systems are also being addressed by a number of related GSCP work streams.
Interested parties are welcomed to give their input to GSCP development. A work stream consultation process aimed at maintaining an inclusive approach to the GSCP facilitates this input. The GSCP is further broadened by the existence of a civil society advisory board tasked with review of the GSCP process and outcome. International stakeholders including NGOs, academics and trade unions are included in the make up of the board.
Outcomes of the GSCP
The GSCP is intended to save time and money for both buyers and producers. Buyers benefit because under GSCP they won't need to audit each of their suppliers, but can instead rely on the results of a single audit undertaken against any system that is deemed equivalent to GSCP. These buyers should thereby gain freed resources, which they can assign to audit follow-up and remediation. The greatest benefit for producers will be in significant reductions in audit fees and gains in productivity due to reduced time spent undergoing audits, as the previous range of audits (http://www.socialresponsibility.sgs.com/audits.htm) is replaced by a single GSCP audit. The single set of supplier requirements provided by GSCP will simplify for companies the need to address the extensive number of existing codes, programmes and local laws regulating company operations.
For those GSCP member companies wishing to continue to work with their own audit programmes, GSCP provides reference tools to enable them to benchmark their systems in order to identify any changes that will be required to bring these systems into conformity with the internal GSCP tools. This process will enable these GSCP members to accept each other's reports, as they will know that equivalence exists between any reports delivered according to GSCP benchmarks.
Whether suppliers wish to continue to undertake their own audits or to adopt GSCP, auditing against GSCP represents a proactive preparatory measure for other audits. SGS can assist such suppliers by conducting audits against the current GSCP reference tools, providing time and cost-effective assistance with the integration of the social and environmental modules. SGS is strongly positioned as a GSCP auditor, having been actively engaged with the program since its inception.
SGS Consumer Testing Services
Social Responsibility Solutions Manager SGS United Kingdom Ltd.
SGS United Kingdom Ltd, Saunders House, 52-53 The Mall, Ealing, London, W5 3TA
t +44 203 008 7860
The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 59,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.