The state of responsible sourcing in AIM-PROGRESS member companies - annual benchmarking survey results

The 2017 survey marked the second year of integrating the Responsible Sourcing Journey (RSJ) into the annual Member Benchmarking Survey. This approach evaluates responses to a set of self-assessment questions to determine a member’s maturity level across five categories. Using the RSJ framework, the overall AIM-PROGRESS membership is identified as slightly more mature in 2017 compared to 2016.


2017 survey results continued to demonstrate members’ progress on responsible sourcing—66% of members cited at least one area of updates to their program in 2017, and the data show more suppliers are being audited, assessed by third-parties, or undertaking self-assessments. In 2017, 64% of in-scope suppliers were assessed by one or more of these approaches compared to 51% in 2016 and 33% in 2015. More companies are also auditing tier 2 suppliers, with 13 members conducting 303 audits in 2017—a significant increase compared to the 9 companies who conducted 112 audits of second-tier suppliers in 2016.


Though members reported recognizing fewer Mutual Recognition (MR) audits than in 2016, over a five year period, the number of MR audits recognized has increased from 293 in 2013 to 903 in 2017. In total, the number of MR audits recognized in 2017 comprise about 12% of the total number of audits reported by members in 2017, and represents approximately US$2.3 million in collective savings, assuming an audit cost of US$2,500.


More members are actively working to implement international frameworks in 2017, including human rights regulations (92%), the Sustainable Development Goals (56%), and the Paris Agreement (53%). Members have been actively working on forced labor and human trafficking throughout 2017, and currently only 6% of members lack an approach to address forced labor and human trafficking.


Member progress is supported in part through senior-level oversight as one-third of members report that the highest level of oversight for their programs is an individual within one level of the CEO or is the CEO. Furthermore, 90% of member budgets either stayed the same or increased from 2016 to 2017. The majority of these budgets is spent on headcount and companies reported a 22% increase in FTEs, while the count of part-time employees has decreased.


Members continue to derive value from AIM-PROGRESS membership, and most members cited mutual recognition of audits as AIM-PROGRESS’ biggest achievement of the last ten years. Other key achievements centered around the sharing of ideas, experience and best practice and the supplier capability building program. In the future, members would like to see human rights topics integrated in the supply chain and Responsible Sourcing Journey. They wish to continue to learn from best practice sharing in areas like beyond compliance and see greater collaboration between members and with other sustainability organizations.


Excerpt from our Annual Benchmarking survey report 2017.