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What is our objective?
To reduce audit fatigue and align on key issues of responsible sourcing, several AIM-PROGRESS brand manufacturers agree to consider mutual recognition of social compliance audits of their suppliers.
Why is important?
AIM-PROGRESS seeks to promote responsible sourcing while reducing the duplication of supplier audits. Member companies all have responsible sourcing programs which may include the request for on-site audits of suppliers. To reduce audit duplication, costs and fatigue companies - through the Mutual Recognition mechanism - can recognize supplier audits completed on behalf of another company.
What are we doing?
Step 1: The first step is to benchmark member companies' audit protocols against a joint set of common criteria. If the audit protocol is equivalent to a majority of members' audit requirements as reflected in our commong benchmark - SMETA 4-pillar 6.0 - (85% commonality at a minimum), companies can participate in the Mutual Recognition initiative. The protocol benchmarking is supported by the ITC (International Trade Center). The ITC Sustainability Map is the basis for a bespoke protocol benchmarking tool they have created for AIM-PROGRESS.
Step 2: The second step of mutual recognition is to agree to the general principle of accepting other companies' audits. Members do this by signing on to the joint Mutual Recogntion statement. Our common benchmark for accepting each other's audits is the SMETA 6.0 audit protocol or equivalent.
Step 3: Companies then share their list of audited suppliers over the last three years via the AIM-PROGRESS Secretariat who assembles the lists into one common document, which is sent back to participants in a sufficiently aggregated and anonymous format to avoid anti-trust concerns.
Step 4: Companies check the list for suppliers they use and who they haven’t yet audited. If they find any, they request these suppliers to share the assessment/audit reports directly with them or, if they are a member of a data sharing platform upload them via the platform, which provides a secure online data exchange between suppliers and customers. In this way a new audit can be avoided.
Members are by no means required to recognise an audit carried out on behalf of another AIM-PROGRESS member. It remains their prerogative to request an additional audit or not.
The audited supplier list is only available to companies who are signed up to the MR framework and who contribute to the list.
AIM-PROGRESS also carries out an annual survey across the membership to benchmark how member companies are implementing responsible sourcing and how their maturity is evolving.
We are currently broadening the scope of our mutual recognition activities to other practices, tools and standards, which would benefit from convergence.