Hall of shame.

A plush unit

A plush unit

I am upset. I probably shouldn’t as it is not being upset that will change anything, but I am upset anyway.

Yesterday I worked on an audit report of a SA 8000 certified company. It was a very clean factory that looks very safe.

But about 90% of the job positions were empty on the audit day. The few workers we met were all claiming the factory was working six days per week, eight hours a day with never any other overtime hours. If it has been true, it would have been highly surprising. Unfortunately, we made some interviews with workers outside the factory. And there the story was fully different. The normal working time was about 70 hours a week, many workers were paid lower than the legal minimum wages. Some former workers complained it was very difficult to resign and get paid…

That absolutely can’t match with a certified company. How is it possible an international certification body was not able to find what we found in a couple of hours while they were doing a two days audit? How is it ethical to issue a certificate to a factory that so blatantly was just lying to look compliant? How is it fair to the factories who indeed try to provide some good working conditions?

Auditing is a difficult job and it is often hard to be really accurate. But here and in so many other cases, it is no more a problem of accuracy. So many audits are just meaningless! Should we take the SA8000 certification as an Health and Safety certificate only as it is the only topic where it is easier to solve the issue properly than to hide it? But there are some other criteria focusing on Health and Safety. So what is the point of using SA 8000 then.

I tend to believe working on CSR should lead us to have strong ethical values and I will continue in that way. But, well, it is so frustrating to see some unethical ones prospering and destroying the job of the ones brands and factories alike who try to promote better working conditions.

I am upset, but tenacious. I will continue to promote a realistic and responsible approach.

4 Comments:

  1. I so identify with your frustration. I’ve experienced it so very often and it really makes me wonder about the ethics of companies that 1) do nothing about this, 2) the brands that continue to allow these sort of practices to continue and 3) the nature of the people who have been entrusted with a responsibility.

    But like most of these kinds of models – “the business of business is business!”

    But I’m glad that I’m not the only one who sees the utter lack of transparency and breakdown of ethical practices.

  2. I think audits are just part of the solution but they are not the only solution to ethical issues. Fortunatly, with the new UN sustainability guidelines, more and more companies are now looking at “bringing purpose” rather than just complying to standards ; consequently, they try to work in collaboration with their suppliers in order to help them to change their practices. This collaboration includes giving and showing them advantages to carry out the changes…

  3. Hello,

    Thanks for your reply although I disagree.
    WethicA is doing audits too and the case I point out here was found during an announced audit. So even during an announced audit, with a little skills, you can really assess the general situation.
    I do believe that claiming you couldn’t see it during an announced audit is just an easy way to claim the auditing company is not responsible of anything. But, in such case, we should analyze the consequence which is the certificate is meaningless. And then we could wonder why we should trust a company selling purposely a meaningless product.

  4. Pingback: It would be funny if it wasn’t sad, or “how to make a lie becomes official.”

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