How do we select which garment factories to add to our platform? This is one of the most common questions we get, and it's because the social compliance process for suppliers is so unknown and confusing. Our mission at THR3EFOLD is to provide brands with faster discovery and easier decision making in their sustainable sourcing journey. Certification is the first step so let's take a peek at some of the certifications that we use to verify a factory’s ethical credentials for THR3EFOLD.
With literally hundreds of different certifications and standards all claiming to verify ethical practices, how do you know which ones to trust? That's where we come in. THR3EFOLD carefully selects and vets factories ensuring their certifications are of the highest standard before adding them to our platform. When assessing factories, we look for certifications that meet three main criteria:
Standards - we only select certifications and audit tools that evaluate factories against our 8 standards of an ethical factory.
Process - we look for a rigorous and robust assessment process with a thorough independent on-site audit that includes a document review, site tour, management interview, and worker interviews.
Validity - we cross reference the certifications factories provide with the certifying body themselves to verify their validity. Unfortunately, we do get fraudulent certifications so this is an important step.
Ethical certifications and audits we currently accept are: WRAP, SA8000, Smeta's SEDEX, Better Work, World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Wear Foundation. In today's post we will take a look at SA8000.
SA8000 was one of the first social compliance certification programs to be developed. It was established in 1997 by Social Accountability International (SAI), a US based global non-government organization. The program claims to “provide a framework for organizations of all types, in any industry, and in any country to conduct business in a way that is fair and decent for workers and to demonstrate their adherence to the highest social standards.” (SAI) As of 2018, SA8000 boasts 3,728 certified facilities in 61 countries across 56 different industries reaching over 2 million workers.
Factories must be in compliance with the 8 key areas of SA8000 (which reflect labor provisions contained in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO conventions) and in respect of national labor laws around the world.
How do factories get SA8000 certification?
Consequences of non-compliance
Non-compliance is categorized into four levels (critical, major, minor and timebound) and is dealt with accordingly. Critical non-compliance (involving a breach of human rights, life, or safety) results in immediate revocation of certification. Non-compliance in less serious instances may involve a suspension of certification until the factory can make necessary improvements.
How often is certification renewed?
Certifications are valid for 3 years subject to on-site surveillance monitoring.
We will be taking a look at the other ethical production certifications (WRAP, Smeta's SEDEX, Better Work, World Fair Trade Organization and Fair Wear Foundation) in subsequent blog posts so subscribe to our newsletter to learn more. Our weekly newsletter is packed with tips and information to help you shift your brand in a more ethical and sustainable direction.