Introducing the new BRCGS Ethical Trade and Responsible Sourcing Standard

Constanze Illner CSR & Responsible Sourcing, News

In the consumer goods industry, BRCGS Global Standards is widely recognized as one of the leading certification scheme owners for product quality and safety. With the new Global Standard for Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing, BRCGS is taking its experience with scheme management into the area of responsible sourcing. In this article, we provide an overview of what to expect from the new scheme.

Do we really need another ethical standard? No, we do not – unless it adds significant value to existing standards and schemes. That is the ambition of BRC with its new Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing Standard: to create an auditing and certification scheme for social compliance that is more robust, more credible and more impactful than other schemes available.

We have summarized the audit protocol and the audit criteria for you below.

  • The Global Standard for Ethical Trade and Responsible Sourcing is a certification. Unlike many other social compliance schemes, sites that meet the full requirements obtain a BRCGS certificate that confirms their compliance.
  • BRCGS will use its extensive experience as a scheme owner to monitor the performance of the certification bodies, in order to safeguard the effectiveness, quality and integrity of the certification process. Only auditors and certification bodies approved and monitored by BRCGS Global Standards will be able to conduct audits.
  • BRCGS proposes a risk-based process, in which risk is not based on external parameters like reputation of the country, but solely on the performance of the site itself, thereby avoiding bias and prejudice. The procedure will consist of a risk assessment audit and a full ethical audit – the result of sites during the former determines the frequency of the latter.
  • The Global Standard for Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing makes use of the synergies between BRCGS product safety audits and ethical audits, by enabling the risk assessment audit to be combined with the product safety audit.
  • The intention is to submit the new scheme for benchmarking to the Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI), which fulfils a similar role for social compliance audits as GFSI benchmarking does for product safety audits.
  • All audit criteria are aligned with other social compliance standards and protocols, most notably Sedex SMETA in order to ensure consistency.

How will the audits be conducted

The audits will be divided into two separate audits.

Stage 1 – Risk Assessment

This will provide an overview of how well the management system is working through the lens of ethical trade and responsible sourcing.

The risk assessment can be conducted as an add-on to an existing standard, taking up to 4 hours, depending on the site and number of employees. It is important to note, that any qualified BRCGS auditor will be able to conduct this assessment, meaning that auditor can conduct both audits.

Stage 2 – Core ETRS Audit

This is the full ethical audit, conducted only by lead social auditors who have successfully passed the BRCGS ETRS Auditor exam. The audit has been aligned with global best practice guidelines and the SMETA audit methodology. However, the ETRS audit will be benchmarked and use certain technical functions that separate this audit from SMETA.

Involvement of DQS

The Global Standard for Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing is the result of a multistakeholder process, involving retailers, suppliers, certification bodies and ethical trade experts. As one of the leading certification bodies for BRCGS audits as well as social compliance audits, DQS is happy to contribute and participate in the pilot program.

Dr. Thijs Willaert represented DQS in the BRCGS Ethical Trade Working Group and knows how the new standard sets itself apart from other Ethical Standards: “In terms of the assessment criteria, we have reached a point of great convergence: almost all standards and schemes for social compliance cover the same issues. The focus is therefore shifting to the governance aspects: who audits, who monitors the auditors and audit firms, and how can we benchmark the different schemes? BRCGS Global Standards has great experience in this regard and can help ensure the credibility of certification.” Here you can download the full standard.

What DQS can do for you

DQS is a highly experienced provider of sustainability audits. With a global network of highly qualified auditors, we are ready to assist all over the globe.

Contact us if you have any questions, or register for our newsletter to receive regular updates on certification and standards.

Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Marketing & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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Constanze Illner Administrator
Constanze Illner is Marketing & Communication Officer at DQS CFS GmbH
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