According to research carried out by the Better Buying Institute, workers benefit when major brands and retailers accept standardized audits from apparel factories.
Suppliers taking part in the Better Buying Purchasing Practices Index 2022 were asked if their buyers accepted standardised audits rather than buyer-specific audits or assessments. This question was part of the category "Win-Win Sustainable Partnership," which measures brands' and retailers' contributions to reducing industry-wide audit duplication.
Just over a fifth (22.5%) of respondents (63.8%) indicated that their buyer had embraced the Converged Assessment Framework of the Social and Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) (CAF). The advantages that these suppliers cited for their buyers' acceptance of the CAF included: improved clarity regarding corrective measures (63.7%); decreased staff time spent on auditing (58%); and cost savings on auditing charges (46.7%).
The majority (66.7%) of suppliers who claimed to be saving money as a result of their customers accepting CAF indicated they were doing so up to US$5,000 per year, with 4.3% indicating savings of up to $20,000 more. When asked how they were using their savings, 36.7% said they were investing in the workplace, 35.3% said they were providing new programs for employees, and 7.7% said they were raising wages.
Dr. Marsha Dickson, president and co-founder of the Better Buying Institute, said that the potential for worker gains are enormous when brands and retailers accept the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework instead of insisting on buyer-specific audits. But the uniformity of audits is only one aspect of the situation. To ensure continuous supplier sustainability and consistent worker benefits, buyers' purchasing habits must be robust across all seven Better Buying areas.
Janet Mensink, executive director of SLCP, said that the 2022 results show that facilities gain noticeable advantages when their customers use integrated equipment.
Mensink added that all companies and merchants should prioritize improving their purchasing procedures, and giving up their proprietary audit tools is a reasonably easy move they can take to become more ethical consumers. They implore more businesses to implement SLCP so that time and resources can be diverted from audits to more beneficial endeavors.
With the SLCP CAF since 2018, Décor Garment, a multinational full-service apparel design, and production company, has accepted the utilization of its facilities in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, India, and Kenya.
Michael Cai, director of operations and supply chain, said that the SLCP CAF, enables global distribution of a single validated evaluation, doing away with the requirement that each buyer undertakes their own audit. This relieves them of the burden of managing several audits, improves their effectiveness, and makes it possible for them to collaborate more effectively with their facilities to have a positive influence and enhance working conditions.
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