UL wants to give you some insights on how to advance sustainable business practices within global supply chains. We raised some questions to Assia Hizi – SMETA referential expert of UL – and you can read our interview and contact us to schedule a meeting!
Q: If you should list the benefits of using the SMETA Audit for global companies, what would you include?
Assia: The SMETA tool is one of the most used schemes in the responsible sourcing field and is widely accepted by retailers and end clients. Choosing the SMETA tool can help to reduce audit fatigue.
The flexibility of this tool also gives factories ownership of their social audit programme and audit report.
Factories and suppliers that are paying for the audit can own their audit report and share it with one or multiple clients.
Q: Are there other audit schemes that facilities usually consider when looking at SMETA?
Assia: Factories usually look for an audit scheme that is widely recognized and also accepted by their current clients.
We generally introduce the most common schemes in the responsible sourcing fields such as the Amfori-BSCI, ICS, SLCP and others.
As UL, we also suggest our own audit tool: UL’s Responsible Sourcing Workplace Assessment (RSWA). With the RSWA the evaluated areas as part of the assessment (scope) and the protocols followed in the field (methodology) are benchmarked against key industry frameworks.
Q: Why do they ultimately choose the SEDEX platform when they are performing SMETA audit?
Assia: The SEDEX platform allows the audited site to avoid massive email exchanges and to directly share with the clients:
- the final audit report (also with multiple clients)
- any corrective actions
In addition, if required by the audited site, the Affiliate Auditing Company (AAC) who conducted the audit, can conduct a desktop review for applicable non-compliances.
For retailers and end clients, the SEDEX platform is a database that can allow them to map their supply chain and monitor their compliance programme.
Q: Who owns the results of a SMETA Audit?
Assia: The payer is the owner of the SMETA final audit report.
Q: What are the biggest hurdles for a facility in the SMETA Audit process and how can they prepare for these hurdles?
Assia: The SMETA audit can be time consuming for both the audited site and the auditor.
Our advice to the audited sites is to join Sedex as members. Sedex E-learning offers a variety of documents and guidance for suppliers to be ready and prepared before and during the audit.
In addition, when you become a member you have to complete the Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) and the information you will provide will help the site to identify and locate key information for the audit. Completing the SAQ also helps the auditor to understand the site structure before the audit and identify site information to be collected in the final report.
Who is Assia Hizi?
Assia is the UL scheme manager for the SMETA tool. She takes care of providing guidance to factories, suppliers and brands using or looking to use the SMETA tool. She also represents UL at the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (SSF) — which is in charge of the monitoring and updating of the SMETA tool — and she takes part in the Sedex Audit Quality Programme (AQP) with the aim to develop the quality monitoring programme for Affiliate Auditing Companies (AAC) and auditors.
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