BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) and Sedex have been competitors in the past, but this week, the business-driven initiative and non-profit organization signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to reduce duplication of effort while building capacity and bolstering global collaboration to fight human trafficking. The announcement comes as both organizations release new online tools for their memberships.
“Although both organisations will remain separate entities with separate memberships, goals and objectives, we are looking forward to leveraging the considerable market size of both BSCI and Sedex to effect positive change in the industry,” FTA Director General Christian Ewert said. “We are confident that this MoU will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship for BSCI, Sedex, and the companies that make up our global memberships.”
Sedex, which works with buyers, suppliers and auditors to improve global supply chains, and BSCI, an initiative under the FTA (Foreign Trade Association) that supports retailers, importers and brands in efforts to improve working conditions in factories and on farms worldwide, will co-develop projects and programmes that enhance the sustainability efforts of their memberships. They expect their cooperation to drive scale within the responsible sourcing industry and establish a firm base and mutual understanding which can be further built upon to continue the collaboration in future.
“After months of discussion, it is with great excitement that we announce the collaboration between Sedex and BSCI,” Sedex CEO Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman said. “While the two organisations have historically been competitors, both recognise that simplification and collaboration – core values of Sedex and BSCI – are absolutely crucial to the development of the responsible supply chain industry as a whole.”
The organizations will not share audits, but the MoU outlines a number of focus areas for their attention:
- Human trafficking: BSCI and Sedex will collaborate to align global brands and retailers on best approaches to tackling the issue of human trafficking.
- Shared capacity building: BSCI will explore opportunities to include Sedex members in BSCI capacity building activities.
- Continuous improvement of labour relations: BSCI and Sedex will work together on a common approach to implementing a process of continuous improvement of labour relations at the workplace.
- Audit quality metrics: Working in alignment with the Association for Professional Social Compliance Auditors (APSCA), BSCI and Sedex will develop and launch shared auditor metrics for the management of audit quality. This common approach will help drive a common view of audit quality for suppliers, brands and retailers across the globe.
- Data collaboration: BSCI and Sedex will explore opportunities to collaborate on the outputs of data from both systems that would better support their membership organisations track, manage and predict social and environmental issues in the global supply chain.
- Working group collaboration: Members of the leadership teams of BSCI and Sedex will be given a role on each other’s working groups to explore further opportunities to collaborate.
“The partnership between Sedex and BSCI is an important step forward for our industry and for the world of social compliance in general,” said Lary Brown, Vice President - Head of Global Social and Environmental Sustainability at Esprit, a BSCI member company. “Two of the largest monitoring organisations working together provides opportunities for members of both organisations, as well as thousands of supplier factories, and sends a more uniform message about what we are trying to do. The cooperation emphasises that the multiple organisations in this field are, indeed, all working toward the same goal of seeing ILO standards implemented in workplaces around the world.”
The news follows an announcement of a merger between BSCI and the Initiative Clause Sociale (ICS), an organization that represents 20 major French and Belgian retailers working to improve sustainability in global supply chains, which will become effective on January 1, 2017.
Earlier this month, five global brands - The Coca-Cola Company, HP Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IKEA and Unilever launched a completely separate collaboration, the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, which will focus on promoting ethical recruitment and combating the exploitation of migrant workers in global supply chains across industries.
The new partnership between BSCI and Sedex comes amidst yet more tools to help manage and scale-up sustainable procurement:
- Sedex Advance, the “world’s largest collaborative platform for sharing data on supply chains,” with more than 38,000 members in over 150 countries;
- BSCI 2.0, a recently upgraded system and holistic model fostering responsible business practices; and
- FTA Academy, an online service providing access to learning material and courses to over 1,800 companies and 28,000 producers worldwide.
Earlier this year, Sedex released new guidance on how to spot the signs of actual, likely or possible cases of forced labour for both auditors and audit readers in an aptly-named document, Guidance on Operational Practice & Indicators of Forced Labour.