The social audit has been developed at the behest of major customers and under pressure from consumer associations and NGOs. The audit applies to companies, particularly the way in which they manage human resources, but it also increasingly incorporates corporate social responsibility. Globalisation and company strategies have broadened the range of issues this tool addresses, which now includes concerns relating to regulation, organisation, ethics, company performance and governance procedures.
For several years, the CTC Group has been involved in conducting social audits on the sourcing of leather, footwear and leather goods, building on partnerships or internal and external expertise, depending on the needs of its customers and the programmes for which we were approached.
Numerous customers have contacted us to find out which social audit programmes are most appropriate or under development. Defining a universal programme (or organisation/initiative) to which each market player or factory could refer seems an impossible task.
Two “open” standards dominate the market:
These standards have inspired a multitude of “social audit” programmes, each of which has its own specific features. Without providing an exhaustive list, one of the common elements shared by all these initiatives is that they propose to their members a "code of conduct" and "audit procedures" for their specific suppliers; these initiatives include (historically) the US Fair Labor Association (created in 1998), the UK’s Ethical Trading Initiative (created in 1998), France’s Initiative Clause Sociale (created in 1998) and the European Business Social Compliance Initiative (created in 2003).
Note that numerous fashion and retail operators have chosen to use their own standards (mainly based on the SA8000). In addition, among other significant developments, the Initiative Clause Sociale (ICS, closely followed by French retail chains and distributors) announced an alignment pending a merger with the BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) programme. CTC also closely monitors international initiatives such as FFC (Fair Factory Clearinghouse), Sedex and Sustainable Apparel Coalition** (an initiative historically focused on the textile and footwear industries).
CTC’s social audit offering is currently structured around the SA8000 standard. We provide you with support on simple request, with the possibility of taking action on all of your production sites in Asia in less than 72 hours.
CTC’s social audit reports include:
Most social audits are conducted in one or two days; CTC undertakes to provide a complete audit with the elements listed above in under five days. This tool, dedicated to our leather, footwear, leather goods and textile markets, is an effective instrument in determining the reliability of a supplier network as part of a cross-functional audit policy.
In today’s world, despite the multitude of initiatives relating to the assessment of companies’ corporate social responsibility policies, we believe it is important to conduct social audits to at least gain an understanding of the working conditions at your suppliers. The objective of this approach is not to decide unilaterally if a factory strictly speaking complies with SA8000 objectives, but rather at least to collect and analyse information on your production sites. This enables you to diagnose the risks and to take well-informed decisions with your factories relating to change management or more simply improvement.
* The SA8000 standard is "based on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the conventions of the ILO, the United Nations and national law, and covers industry and corporate codes to create a common language in order to measure social performance". This standard measures nine elements at the production sites: 1. Child labour; 2. Forced or compulsory labour; 3. Health and safety; 4. Freedom of association and right to collective bargaining; 5. Discrimination; 6. Disciplinary practices; 7. Working hours; 8. Remuneration; 9. Management systems.
** Co-developed SAC benchmark, whose social audit framework is still under development.