Overview of approaches to Responsible Sourcing programs

AIM-PROGRESS members each have a slightly different approach to responsible sourcing but there are common key elements that are leveraged to reduce duplication. Below is an overview of a responsible sourcing program:


Pre-assessment / self-assessment questionnaire

Not all companies will use this type of questionnaire but if you are asked for one it is important to make sure that you keep it up to date, if you have made changes at your site that involve any of the 4 pillars of responsible sourcing (labour standards, health & safety, environment and business integrity) then reflect this in your questionnaire. These assessments can also be a helpful tool for you to use to identify gaps yourself and put your own corrective actions in place. The questions in these questionnaires will look at similar issues as an ethical audit so use it to your advantage. A supplier may be asked to complete a self-assessment, e.g. Sedex SAQ. Some AIM-PROGRESS members also use third party assessments, such as EcoVadis


Onsite ethical audit

The majority of AIM-PROGRESS members undertake 4-pillar audits that cover human rights & labour standards, health & safety, environment and business integrity. The common benchmark for AIM-PROGRESS members is SMETA 6.0 audit protocol or equivalent.



Click here to find out more about the pillars of responsible sourcing. 

Companies usually have their own supplier codes and policies which are different, but usually they are based on the UN Global Compact's ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption. 


Human Rights

  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.  



  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. 



  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.   



  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery. 


Corrective action plan implementation

If during the course of the audit the auditor finds areas that need improvement they will discuss this with you, provide timeframes for when these actions should be completed. As an example of a corrective action plan you may wish to examine the Sedex CAPR.


Implementing human rights due diligence (based on UNGPs)

Companies are increasingly carrying out Human Rights Due Diligence in their supply chains, and encouraging their suppliers to do the same. This is often in response to legislation, but also part of leading brands' responsible sourcing program. For practical advice on how to implement the UNGPs and due diligence, you can refer to the publication "Doing business with respect for human rights".