Ethical Audit Format Puts Workers Centre Stage

Posted on Dec 12 2014 - 8:48am by Sustainable News

Sedex, the leading non-profit organisation dedicated to improving global supply chains, has launched the latest version of the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA), an audit procedure which is a compilation of good practice in ethical audit technique, to help auditors conduct high quality audits that encompass all aspects of responsible business practice.

SMETA version 5.0 is a product of the most comprehensive review of the audit format to date, covering the SMETA format itself as well as the existing Best Practice Guidance and the new Measurement Criteria documents. Building on the previous version, 5.0 enhances measurement of workers’ rights by including two new chapters on impact assessments and worker management dialogue, as well as extra guidance based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights. The update also includes the new Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI) Base Code working hours clause – devised to help companies and suppliers better understand and uphold laws and international standards on working hours – due to be used in audits from 1 December 2014.

Maintaining its position at the leading edge of ethical auditing, SMETA 5.0 tackles the controversial issue of land rights by asking auditors to check the relevant legal permissions to operate are in place at a site. The new format also increases awareness of environmental impacts by measuring how biodiversity requirements are met through the certification programmes in place.

Ethical Audit Format Puts Workers Centre Stage

Ethical Audit Format Puts Workers Centre Stage

While many more improvements have also been made to SMETA, the format of the audit itself has been simplified in order to make it easier to use for both the auditor and the intended audience.

“Since launching in early 2007 SMETA has grown rapidly to become the world’s most commonly used ethical audit format, with an estimated 180,000 audits done to date,” commented Carmel Giblin, CEO at Sedex. “The latest version of SMETA continues to push the auditing community forward by placing the worker at the very centre of the audit process. With a new section on Workplace Human Rights, improved guidance around interviewing migrant workers and the inclusion of trade union or worker committee involvement in the audit process, we hope that auditors will be further empowered to accurately assess the situation at a workplace site.”

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