PRESS RELEASE: Workers Benefit When Brands and Retailers Accept Standardized Audits from Suppliers

Workers benefit when global brands and retailers accept standardized audits from garment factories, according to research carried out by Better Buying Institute. 

Dr. Marsha Dickson, President and Co-Founder of Better Buying Institute, will address the Social and Labor Convergence Program (SLCP)’s General Assembly later today, reporting on the findings and outlining how audit harmonization supports better conditions for workers across the board. 

Suppliers participating in the Better Buying Purchasing Practices IndexTM 2022, and answering questions in the ‘Win-Win Sustainable Partnership’ category (which measures brands’ and retailers’ contributions to reducing industry-wide audit duplication) were asked if their buyer accepted standardized audits rather than buyer-specific audits or assessments. 

63.8% responded that they did, with just over a fifth (22.5%) reporting that their buyer accepted SLCP’s Converged Assessment Framework (CAF). These suppliers reported a number of benefits from their buyer accepting the CAF, including: greater clarity on corrective actions (63.7%); reduced staff time devoted to auditing (58%); and money saved on auditing expenses (46.7%). 

Of those suppliers reporting that they were saving money as a result of their buyers accepting CAF, most (66.7%) estimating they were saving up to $5,000 a year, with 4.3% reporting savings of $20,000 more. When asked how they were investing these savings, 36.7% reported making investments in the workplace, 35.3% were offering new programs to workers, and 7.7% were paying higher wages.

Dr. Marsha Dickson comments: “When brands and retailers accept the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework instead of insisting on buyer-specific audits, the potential for worker benefits are significant. But audit harmonization is only part of the picture. Buyers’ purchasing practices need to be strong across all seven Better BuyingTM categories to support ongoing supplier sustainability, and deliver consistent benefits to workers.”

Janet Mensink, Executive Director of SLCP, comments: “The BBPPI is a fantastic tool for understanding the realities of buyer-supplier relationships. The 2022 results demonstrate that facilities experience tangible benefits when their buyers use converged tools such as the CAF. Improving purchasing practices should be a priority for all brands and retailers, and ditching their proprietary audit tools is a relatively simple step they can take to become more responsible buyers. We urge more companies to adopt SLCP so time and resource can be directed away from auditing to more useful activity.”

Michael Cai, Director of Operations and Supply Chain, at Décor Apparel, a global full-service apparel design and manufacturing company which has been engaged with the SLCP CAF since 2018, and has now adopted its use facilities in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Mexico, India and Kenya, comments:

“Decor has been engaged with the SLCP CAF since 2018, when we piloted its use in two facilities in China. In 2019, we became an SLCP signatory, and we have now scaled up its adoption in our partner facilities in multiple countries including China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, India and Kenya. Sharing of one single verified assessment eliminates the need to handle multiple audits. This frees up our resources, uplifts our efficiency and enables us to work more productively with our facilities to drive positive impacts and improve working conditions.”

READ THE FULL REPORT: Win-Win Partnership: How suppliers are investing savings when buyers accept recently completed audits

CASE STUDY: Michael Cai, Director of Operations and Supply Chain at Décor Apparel, on the benefits to suppliers and workers when buyers accept the SLCP CAF.

For further information, please contact Lindsay Wright, Senior Manager of Communications, at Better Buying Institute, or Holly Menezes, Senior Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Engagement, at SLCP.