In recent years, we have seen a proliferation of social standards. Many industries and associations have developed customized standards to match the particularities of their sector. The downside of this development is that suppliers often have to pass multiple audits, which are all very similar. The Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative, to be launched later this year, sets out to improve recognition of social auditing schemes and standards.
The differences between various social standards, audit systems and certifications may not be big, but they are still significant: An audit that meets the requirements of one customer is not necessarily recognized by other customers.
With the development of the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative, SSCI for short, the Consumer Goods Forum has set itself the goal of developing a benchmarking and recognition system for social standards and social audit systems. The procedure is based on the benchmarking of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI):
- certain core requirements are set, both for the auditing requirements and the audit process
- It is checked whether a given standard covers the core requirements
- If the verdict is positive, the standard or audit system may call itself SSCI-recognized
Why the progress of SSCI is so important
In the food industry, GFSI benchmarking has led customers to consider certain standards as equivalent and avoid double audits. As an audit company, we would welcome SSCI benchmarking to lead to a similar harmonization of social audits.
- For buyers, the system helps to compare different auditing systems and to decide on reliable standards
- For suppliers, SSCI benchmarking can reduce the audit burden by ensuring acceptance of SSCI-approved social standards.
The SSCI initiative plans to release the benchmarking documents in late 2018. It is not yet known how long it will take until the first standards and auditing systems are recognized.