We know that auditing can never provide a 100% guarantee that our requirements for fair and safe working conditions are upheld at all times. But we also know that it’s a key element in formulating and explaining our demands. Auditing provides an opportunity to seek dialogue with our partners and identify where improvements can be made. On-site audits encourage globally homogenous standards and simplify access to independent organisations for workers. That’s why in addition to development and training regular monitoring of our suppliers’ factories is a supporting pillar of our social programme.
Social audits. As a member of the Otto Group, we are committed to the Group’s social programme. The programme’s goal is to expose local working conditions and make long-term improvements. In concrete terms: production sites in risk countries (according to amfori BSCI) need to provide a valid social audit before they can manufacture products for us.
We accept SA8000 certification, A to C rated amfori BSCI audits, or an Otto Group assessment. All audits are carried out locally by independent auditing bodies. Around 80% of our audits are carried out in accordance with amfori BSCI and are standardised “semi-announced” audits with no exact auditing date provided prior to inspection.
Due to limited access during the 2020 global pandemic we have not managed to achieve our target of 100% integration into the social programme. It was not always possible to trigger new on-site inspections for audits that expired during this challenging period. However, at the time of production, 92% of our suppliers were able to produce a valid audit for all their factories in 2020.
Social standards in the upstream chain. This year, as part of a pilot project with selected strategic suppliers and analogue to our existing social programme, we are testing tools to identify and improve working conditions in our suppliers’ upstream chains. The experience, insights and recommendations we have gained from our suppliers during this pilot will be considered in our future decisions. Based on findings collected to date, we plan to roll out new policies for our strategic suppliers’ partners from 2022.
Industry collaborations. Standing shoulder to shoulder with other organisations is the most effective way to face challenges head on. This not only applies to the Otto Group with our standardised social programme, but to other partners from the industry too. As a member of the Otto Group we work towards industry-wide solutions such as the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, amfori BSCI, the Sustainable Apparel Collection (SAC) and the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles.