Tag: csr

Why social responsibility at factories matters

We continue to see an increase in requests for social responsibility audits and are pleased to see the growing commitment in this regard.  Aside from reducing quality risks and cost, ensuring social responsibility improves quality of life and ultimately affects the quality of products being produced as well.

Principles of social responsibility per the ISO 26000 guideline include:

• Accountability
• Transparency
• Ethical behaviour
• Respect for stakeholder interests
• Respect for the rule of law
• Respect for international norms
of behaviour
• Respect for human rights

“The SA 8000 standard is based on the UN Declaration of Human Rights, conventions of the ILO, UN and national law, and spans industry and corporate codes to create a common language to measure social performance.  It takes a management systems approach by setting out the structures and procedures that companies must adopt in order to ensure that compliance with the standard is continuously reviewed.”

The nine elements of the SA 8000 standard include:

  1. Child Labor
  2. Forced or Compulsory Labor
  3. Health & Safety
  4. Freedom of Association & Right to Collective Bargaining
  5. Discrimination
  6. Disciplinary Practices
  7. Working Hours
  8. Remuneration
  9. Management Systems

 

Pro QC auditors receive special training and certifications to be able to evaluate and identify areas of non-conformance. We also work with these facilities on corrective action so that they meet client and internationally accepted standards of conformance.

As an example, auditors discovered the following during a recent social responsibility audit at a factory in China:

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The fire extinguishers in this facility were blocked and not easily accessible if needed.  In addition, the clips were damaged resulting in a failure to function.

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Chemicals were found to be open and exposed.  They were also not labeled correctly. No inventory or MSDS information was available. 

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Exit doors were locked during working hours, which presents a safety risk in an emergency. 

Contact us for additional information or to review example reports.   Also, several SR resources worth mentioning include:

Who cares about manufacturing?

“Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles and perfecting the engineering, as well as final assembly.” ~James Dyson

Manufacturing Day is is approaching on October 3rd, and we’re encouraging all of our partners, clients and associates to open their doors and share the experience of manufacturing with our youth.

To recognize manufacturing’s significance and spread the word, our Tampa office is working with Florida Advanced Technological Education Center and local elementary schools to communicate the message to a younger demographic.  There are also useful ideas and additional information on the Manufacturing Day site.

MFG DAY addresses common misperceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t. By working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers will begin to address the skilled labor shortage they face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of the whole industry.

Supported by a group of industry sponsors and co-producers, MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges. The rallying point for a growing mass movement, MFG DAY empowers manufacturers to come together to address their collective challenges so they can help their communities and future generations thrive.” (Source)

Just in the United States, we discovered that:

Manufacturing supports an estimated 17.2 million jobs in the United States— about one in six private-sector jobs. Nearly 12 million Americans (or 9 percent of the workforce) are employed directly in manufacturing.

Manufacturers in the United States perform two-thirds of all private-sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector.

Manufacturing in the United States produces $1.8 trillion of value each year, or 12.2 percent of U.S. GDP. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

(Source)

  • A comprehensive report regarding Facts about Manufacturing offers further insight.
  • For an international perspective regarding manufacturing’s significance, the UNIDO report provides additional insight. Interesting data exists that compares regions, sectors and estimated growth rates.
  • The World Bank provides useful manufacturing data as a % of GDP for the global economy.

Join us in observing and taking this opportunity to support the industry and its global significance!

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Social Accountability – SA8000 2008-2014 Comparison

Every five years SAI revises the SA8000 standard in order to ensure its continued relevance and adoptability. This process is conducted in accordance with the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards (the Code).

Social Accountability International recently discussed this process and offered a side-by-side comparison (2008-2014) for general review.

Aside from general and minor verbiage changes, other observations include:

  • The term “company” and “employer” has been replaced by “organization” in many areas.
  • The Guidance Document is now available for download rather than previously requiring a  “small fee.”
  • An “Introduction” referencing “Management System” and “Intent/Scope” replaces “Purpose and Scope” as the first item listed in the Contents.
  • Night hours are no longer excluded in regards to hiring young workers.
  • “Health & Safety” are expanded to include a Safety  Committee requirement and more detailed explanation of workplace environment and responsibilities therein.
  • Forced or Compulsory Labor expands on and adds that with certain requirements,
    “recruitment or employment fees or costs shall be charged directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, to
    workers.”
  • “Control” now becomes “Management” of Suppliers and Contractors.
  • Management Systems is expanded and incorporates Social Performance Teams.

Additional resources from SAI are available here.

As a 3rd party engineering & quality consulting firm, Pro QC offers SA8000 and ISO26000 audits as part of our core service offerings.  We have also written several other articles related to the topic of corporate social responsibility.

Social Accountability Audits – Benefits & Features 

ISO 26000 – Introducing the new social standard

Sustainability Audits – An Evolving Process

Celebrating working contributions & realizing the benefits of social audits

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Celebrating worker contributions & realizing the benefits of social audits

The first Monday in September is observed as Labor Day in the United States, which is a national holiday celebrating the contributions of workers.  Similar holidays are observed throughout the world.

Today, Samsung announced issues at several factories in China, indicating age disparities and other health and safety concerns.  They are committing to an evaluation of 144 suppliers before the end of the year, using documentation as a way to verify conformance to local regulations.  Apple and many other multinationals are facing similar issues and are working with NGOs, industry organizations and other 3rd parties such as Pro QC to improve supplier conditions and stakeholder confidence.

We have written several articles relating to on-site and verified social audits and are finding the request for such services are steadily increasing throughout the world.  Organizations of all  sizes and throughout industries are realizing the benefits of proactive supplier management in this regard.

Benefits of ensuring worker’s rights through social audits include:

Human Resources – Recruitment & Retention Benefits 
Higher employee morale leads to greater rates of retention, which cuts the costs of recruiting and training new staff. In addition, a growing trend in recruitment appears to be concern regarding a company’s corporate social responsibility activities.

Increased Product Quality & Safety
Reducing defects and accidents enhances product quality. A less fatigued and adult workforce is less likely to cause accidents or defects on the production line. In addition, a supplier that shows little concern over health and safety is more likely to produce poor quality products.

Risk Management 
Proactive corporate responsibility offsets the risks of scandals or accidents that can create unwanted attention from consumers, regulators, government or the media.

Brand Development
Investing in a socially accountable supply chain benefits a company’s brand by differentiating from competition and building a positive reputation in the minds of consumers.

Stronger Management 
Providing training, defining responsibility and developing manuals will strengthen the management of the company.

Government Intervention 
If businesses take voluntary steps to ensure social accountability, they are more likely to avoid mandated government regulation and taxation.

For additional information regarding the components of social audits, read our full newsletter article.   The American Society for Quality, through theSRO, has recently issued the latest Pathways to Social Accountability as well, which always includes several relevant and convincing case studies.

Reflecting on Human Rights Day 2011

Amid the huste and bustle of the last month of the year, we paused on December 10th to recognize Human Rights Day.

The United Nations released an excellent video highlighting the importance of social media as a vehicle for change this year.

As a global organization, Pro QC seeks to contribute to the international community by offering comprehensive social audits using custom client requirements, SA8000 or the more recently introduced ISO26000 guidelines. In addition, we continue to learn and advise others that see the unlimited potential in supporting human rights.