What do we do of hard facts?

Handcraft workers

Handcraft workers

Audits results are not always positive, and that sometimes lead to difficult relations between customers and suppliers. One obvious strategy for the factory is to deny the non-compliance. Often the factories request for physical evidence of non-compliance. It is especially sensitive points as some topics can’t be easily identified with physical evidences as the discrimination or the harassment. Finding physical evidence for such case would require permanent attendance in the factory which can’t be done during an audit by definition limited in time.

However, it is another difficulty we want to stress here. It’s a shame, but most Chinese factories are now fully trained and organized to hide information (as we explained last month). To do that, they inter alia use fake records. So they are actually faking the physical evidences. With an approach where only physical evidences are taken into account, it is then very easy to hide the actual situation (the factory has time to modify the documents or simply remove them, so remove the access to the evidences). We remind there an audit is not a police investigation, we can’t then access anywhere as we want. However, when we bring evidence of the dissimulation, we should take the full consequences: We can’t trust anymore the information provided by the factory. That means the audit failed as the audit results can’t be considered as reliable. Or to say it differently, the factory has refused indirectly the audit to be performed.

This is a valid approach and it should normally lead the factories to an actual cooperation, the consequences of a dissimulation being very important. However, we have to note that even when falsification is identified, it has only little impact. Usually it is only the indication of an uncertainty on the specific topic instead of telling of a major gap on this topic at least.

Thus, we are giving an incentive to the factories to falsify the records as it allows important benefits with actually low risk for them. Bu, by doing so, we are weakening all the auditing process and step by step there are more and more restrictions on what is considered as an evidence. Some factories state they don’t take interviews results into account but if they are recorded. It is actually becoming quite frequent. Some auditors finally drop the interviews by themselves as they feel they can’t use this information. Relevance of social audits is then greatly diminished. What’s the meaning of a qualification if we actually accept the cheating. During exams, an applicant can’t say the formula he was looking at was relevant to only 5% of the exam, so the final rating can’t be changed by more than 5%. An applicant found cheating is excluded.

One can wonder how the social auditing process is losing this common sense. Who are the ones actually benefiting from such practices?

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