hide message

Welcome to the Resource Centre

We make it our mission to work with advocates in civil society, business and government to address inequalities of power, seek remedy for abuse, and ensure protection of people and planet.

Both companies and impacted communities thank us for the resources and support we provide.

This is only possible because of your support. Please make a donation today.

Thank you,
Phil Bloomer, Executive Director

Donate now hide message

Beyond Social Auditing

Ando International garment factory (Better Work Vietnam)_ILO Asia and Pacific_via_flickr

Independent and diligent audits seem rare and require, at best, a sort of 'checklist compliance'.

Carolijn Terwindt, ECCHR & Gisela Burckhardt, FEMNET

The growing scale and complexity of global supply chains as well as an increased emphasis on human and labour rights has led large multi-national companies to carry out their own social audits, hire private auditors to monitor the conditions in their supply chains and/or require certificates from factory owners. With the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the subsequent positioning of due diligence as the global standard of practice for companies on human rights, social audits are increasingly being used by companies to comply with their due diligence obligations (for more information and guidance on human rights due diligence see this section).

This trend is worrying given that numerous reports have found the practice to be ineffective in capturing human rights abuses in global supply chains, and ultimately in its current form to be failing workers. Incidents such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh and the Ali Enterprises fire in Pakistan, both of which were audited shortly before the tragedies happened, have tragically drawn attention to the pitfalls of social auditing in the textile sector.

Research has also drawn attention to the particular impact this has on vulnerable workers including women, children and migrant and refugee workers. Human Rights Watch for example found that audits in the textile industry fail to address gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the workplace. Our own work on Syrian refugees in the Turkish garment industry also highlights this issue. Workers in other sectors such as agriculture, food and electronics have similarly experienced the shortcomings of social audits, thus raising important questions as to whether the current practice of social auditing is fit for purpose.

However there are a number of reform options and (emerging) alternatives including approaches such as auditor liability, the Worker-driven Social Responsibility model, mandatory human rights due diligence and innovations to grievance mechanisms. This portal will feature various perspectives and research on the pitfalls of social auditing, gather and share examples of where audits have failed, as well as materials exploring alternatives to the current practice of social auditing, including by companies.

We welcome input and views from all stakeholders, both on options for fundamentally reforming social auditing and on alternative models which seek to go beyond the practice.

Explore our blog series

Get RSS feed of these results

Related stories and components

Story
27 November 2009

CEE Bankwatch report says gold mining projects financed by European Bank for Reconstruction & Development harm environment, local communities in Armenia, Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan

See full story

Story
27 November 2009

USA: China Labor Watch report highlights continuing labour abuses in Wal-Mart supply factories

See full story

Story
1 December 2008

Follow-up report finds still no improvement in working conditions at Bangladeshi factories supplying Asda, Tesco & Primark

See full story

Story
26 June 2008

Following rise in Tesco, Primark profits, War on Want says firms “cashing in” on recession by exploiting garment workers, based on previous reports

See full story

Article
26 March 2008

Group says GE supplier in China subjects workers to toxins

Author: Associated Press

A new report says a Chinese factory that makes light bulbs for General Electric Co. subjects many of its employees to 64-hour work weeks and toxic mercury used in the production process. The report by Cleveland-based Policy Matters Ohio accuses Xiamen...

Read more

Story
17 December 2007

China: Workers' lawsuit over conditions at Haowei factory making Disney toys highlights difficulty of tracking abuses in supply chain

See full story

Story
12 September 2007

China: Haowei factory producing Disney-brand toys accused of unhealthy working conditions - Disney responds

See full story

Story
13 October 2006

Jordan: National Labor Committee (NLC) report accuses garment factories of abusive working conditions, incl. beating of workers (Los Angeles Times article - includes responses by Atateks, JC Penney) [free registration required]

See full story

Story
8 October 2006

"Tesco, the Ethical Trading Initiative and child labour" - CSR Asia commentary (see pg. 3)

See full story

Story
17 August 2006

China: Apple issues report on working conditions of suppliers - ICFTU criticises the report

See full story