Ensuring human rights in the supply chain with a social audit

No company wants their products to be based on inhumane labor. Many companies rely on codes of conduct to which suppliers and producers are expected to adhere. In practice, such declarations are usually not very transparent. With social audits, companies can get a picture of the working conditions on site and have their respect for human rights and fair working conditions confirmed.

More transparency for the entire supply chain

Compliance with human rights duty of care

Minimize liability, protect your reputation

Demonstrate compliance with corporate duty of care

A social audit covers more than just social aspects

A social audit initially focuses on the social framework conditions for employees. But independent audits go far beyond that. The aim is to draw a holistic picture of working conditions and compliance with occupational health and safety and human rights.

Various auditing standards are used to conduct social audits. Regardless of the standard in question, experienced auditors usually check the following aspects on site in the factories and production facilities:

  • Working conditions: Under what conditions are products or raw materials processed? Are the workers paid a fair wage?
  • Occupational safety: Does the manufacturer adhere to the applicable safety standards for their employees? Do the established safety standards meet the demands of the customers?
  • Human rights: Are there adequate procedures to exclude child labor? Are all workers treated humanely? Do they have the right to breaks from work and vacations?
  • Environmental protection: Does the supplier take precautions to protect the environment? Are sustainability criteria applied in production?
  • Compliance: Are precautions taken by suppliers to combat corruption? Are anti-corruption measures implemented?

The auditors obtain answers to these questions on site during the audit. For this purpose, interviews are held with employees. Important documents such as salary slips, work schedules and other documents are also checked. In order to be able to classify occupational safety, machines and the entire technical infrastructure of the suppliers are also inspected.

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Important standards for conducting social audits

Social audits can be based on different standards. DQS is recognized for certification according to many globally valid standards and can perform corresponding audits for companies worldwide. Audits rely on similar audit criteria, but specialize in specific industries or segments.

Important standards for social audits include:

  • Responsible Business Alliance (RBA)
  • Together for Sustainability (TfS)
  • Aluminum Stewardship Initiative (ASI)
  • Farm Sustainability Assessments (FSA)
  • SA8000
  • Sedex SMETA

In addition to these standards, social audits can also be conducted on an individual basis for each company or business unit.

Each social audit, regardless of the audit standard applied, considers environmental compliance, ethical guidelines as well as social practices among all stakeholders involved in the supply chain. The aim of the audit is always to create a holistic picture and understanding of the conditions on site. After established routines, so-called "follow-up" audits may follow to ensure that the certified standards continue to be met.

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What is a social audit?

Social audits are also called " social compliance audits". These are audits that are carried out by an independent auditing organization. They check whether a company and all stakeholders in the supply chain comply with important standards related to human rights and fair working conditions.


Competence of our auditors

The fact that DQS is widely recognized is a consequence of our strict approach to auditor qualifications. We are convinced that a social audit can only be effective if there is both technical competence, experience in the industry, emotional intelligence, familiarity with local conditions, and integrity in the auditor team:

  • Technical competence: To be able to identify potential hazards, auditors must be trained in the safe use of machinery and equipment.
  • Industry experience: Each industry has its own risk profile. We only deploy teams of auditors who have relevant professional experience.
  • Emotional intelligence: In order to conduct employee reviews effectively, auditors need to gain the trust of employees. DQS is a pioneer in that we also train soft skills, for example in the ProGASA project, an initiative to promote gender awareness in social audits.
  • Familiarity with local conditions: Where possible, we use local auditors who speak your language and are familiar with local laws.
  • Integrity: We know our auditors personally and have worked together successfully for many years.

Membership APSCA: Professionalism and Acceptance

In 2016, DQS was among the first audit companies to join the APSCA initiative (Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors). This organization was founded with the aim of increasing the added value and effectiveness of independent social audits. Many companies only recognize audits if they have been carried out by APSCA auditors.


The social audit process

In the first step we exchange information about your company, your management system and field of activity in a personal meeting or by e-mail. Since the duration of the audit depends on the size and complexity of your company, we need some information from you, such as the number of employees. On this basis, you will promptly receive a detailed and transparent quote, tailored to your individual needs.

A pre-audit offers the opportunity to check compliance with the standard requirements in advance and to identify potential for improvement as well as strengths. Especially in the case of initial certification, it may be useful to obtain the evaluation of a qualified DQS auditor during or after the implementation of the standard requirements.

Many standards also include a self-assessment, where your company receives a digital questionnaire and provides information about relevant company policies, processes, risks and opportunities. This self-assessment serves as a risk assessment and helps the auditing team prepare for the audit.

This is followed by an on-site audit, in which we at DQS check your information for compliance with the standard's criteria. At the same time, our auditors record any deficiencies and develop a concept with you to implement the identified potential for improvement through suitable measures.

A detailed report is produced from the findings of your audit. This enables you to provide your customers with insight into the audit results and thus demonstrably meet their requirements. If and when a next audit should take place usually depends on the requirements of your customers. For some standards, a certificate can also be issued.


What does a social audit cost?

The cost of a social audit depends, among other things, on the selected audit standard, the size of the company and the number of employees. We will be happy to make you an individual offer for your company without obligation.


Your advantages of social audits by DQS

  • Many years of industry experience combined with high technical competence
  • Expertise and accreditation for all relevant standards
  • Experienced auditors with high technical expertise

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Your local contact

We would be pleased to provide you with an individual quote for the performance of social audits.