Social audit industry criticised for protecting brands' reputations while failing to protect garment worker safety & improve working conditions; Includes auditing company responses
In September 2019, Clean Clothes Campaign released a report criticising the social audit industry and alleging that it has served to protect brands' reputations and profits while failing to meet its purported mission of protecting workers’ safety and improving working conditions in global garment supply chains. The report details alleged auditing failures, including the deadly 2012 Ali Enterprises factory fire in Pakistan and the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. In particular, the report focuses on social compliance initiatives such as Social Accountability International, WRAP, the FLA, and Amfori BSCI, and auditing firms ALGI, Bureau Veritas, TÜV Rheinland, UL, RINA, ELEVATE and SGS, which it claims are "corporate-controlled".
The report claims the social audit industry has blocked more effective models for protecting workers and improving working conditions, such as those that include mandatory transparency and binding commitments to remediation. The report concludes by making recommendations to garment industry stakeholders, including calls for more transparency, accountability, and genuine worker involvement.
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited ALGI, Bureau Veritas, TÜV Rheinland, UL, RINA, ELEVATE and SGS to respond to the report's allegations that social auditing companies are protecting brands and failing workers in the garment industry, and the subsequent recommendations. ELEVATE and ALGI responded and their full responses can be found below. RINA referred to a 2018 statement, linked below. UL responded after publication of our 2 October Weekly Update and the response is below. Bureau Veritas, TÜV Rheinland and SGS did not respond.