Preparing for your ethical audit

An ethical/ social compliance audit will cover the 4 pillars of responsible sourcing (labour and human rights, health and saftey, environment, and business integrity) and involves interviews with management, workers, a walk around the site and a review of documents.


The ethical audit will be based on your customer's requirements and relevant local laws. There are different types of audits available and there are various audit companies that are actively contributing towards the development of ethical audits. AIM-PROGRESS Members generally use the SMETA 6.0 audit or equivalent, to enable mutual recognition of audits and thus avoid duplication, where feasible. Of course, it is left to the discretion of each company whether to recognise an audit which is equivalent to SMETA 6.0.


Who needs to know about the audit?

Everyone at the site has an important role to play in creating a good working environment, whether this is as a manager setting the policies or a worker who makes sure that nothing blocks your emergency exits or your HR personnel who check that everyone is legally old enough to work at your site – everyone has a vital role to play and should be aware of the upcoming audit.

Below is a list that you can use to make sure that everyone has been notified, how you chose to communicate the information will depend on the best method for your workers.

  •  All site management should be briefed prior to the audit, to guarantee they understand the scope of the audit and what is required from each department.
  • All site management should be instructed on the importance of having the correct key personnel and documentation available on the day of the audit (see above) and understand the importance of releasing personnel for interviews on time.
  • Union or other worker representatives should be briefed about the audit and to ensure their availability and understanding.
  • The workforce should be informed about the audit including the code to which the audit is conducted. Personnel should be given Worker Education Materials, this could include poster put up around the site, briefing in team meetings or leaflets about what the audit is about. The method of communication depends on what is best for your workers.
  • There should be a contact within the site for the workforce if they have any questions or worries about the audit e.g. HR Manager.
  • Any Labour Providers (agency) the site uses should be informed about the audit and make sure they understand the importance of having the correct key personnel and documentation available on the day.
  • Any questions or points the site may have about the audit should be referred to the auditor for clarification.


Who needs to be available on the day of the audit?

To ensure that the auditor can access all the information and parts of the site required to complete the assessment, it is important that the following people are available:

  • Someone from senior management - this person needs to have full knowledge of the facility, the authority to comply with the auditor's requests and respond accurately on behalf of the site’s owners and management.
  • Production and Personnel Manager - in order to answer a series of questions regarding production capacity, machines, lead times, hiring practices, and payroll records.
  • Union and/or Worker Representatives - available available throughout the assessment.