The complexity of the interactions and interests involved by each individual organization has prompted the development of systems capable of considering the set of values involved in the organization / community relationship, with the aim of rationalizing and enhancing those fundamental and often intangibles.
Among the different types of Management Systems for Social Responsibility, one of the most widespread and consequently recognized, is the SA8000 standard; which is based on the International Labor Organization (ILO) International Conventions, the UN Conventions on the Rights of Children and Human Rights and is, in the ethical sphere, the first international standard certifiable by a third party.
The peculiarities of the SA8000 Standard concern the following aspects, which are increasingly of interest also in relation to the activities of relocation of production in countries where the level of attention to human rights and social responsibility is not always at the first place of the reference values
- child labor
- forced labor
- Health & Safety
- freedom of association and collective CONTRACT
- disciplinary procedures
- working hours
- management system
The standard defines a reference standard valid all over the world, certifiable by a third party, and different from other similar instruments, little comparable and little effective in terms of external evaluation.
What is required from a responsible organization is to be present in the reference context while maintaining a proactive role towards all those with interests related to the well-being and development of the organization itself.
The system compliant with SA 8000 can be subjected to verification of conformity to the international standard by a Certification Body. The certification process provides, after development and a suitable implementation period within the company, for the management system; the audit by the same Certification Body, through two phases conducted separately. In particular, the Phase 1 audit in which an analysis is conducted on the compliance of the documentation prepared (manual, procedures, instructions) and on compliance with the main applicable legislative requirements, Phase 2 during which the application and effectiveness are verified of the implemented system. The Audit of the Certification Body is aimed at assessing the compliance of the management system with the reference standard with respect to a specific operating area indicated by the organization (so-called “certification purpose”)
SA 8000 certification is the first reference standard for assessing a company’s ethical level and principles of social responsibility.
The main requirements are:
- Respect for human rights, preventing any kind of discrimination based on sex, race, political, religious orientation, etc.
- Respect for workers’ rights, guaranteeing decent pay and working hours not contrary to the law;
- The protection against the exploitation of minors and forced labor;
- Guarantees of safety and health in the workplace.
The fundamental principle of the standard is therefore to improve the working conditions present by allowing to define a working standard that is verifiable by the certification bodies.
Compliance with the requirements of this standard of social responsibility allows the company to:
- To increase, preserve and implement policies and procedures to manage situations that it can control or influence;
- Credibly certify to interested parties that the policies, procedures and practices existing in the company comply with the requirements of this standard.
Advantages and impacts related to the implementation of an SA8000 system:
- The organization compliant with SA 8000 requirements increases its image both towards the community, shareholders, customers, the public administration, and, above all, towards employees who are aware of working in a safe, transparent and ethically correct company. In this way, the internal climate improves and, plausibly, the opportunities for trade union-work conflicts decrease.
- Best ethical control on suppliers: By virtue of a specific standard requirement, the SA 8000 certified organization must monitor the ethical behavior of its suppliers. This leads to the prevention of costs related to the loss of image in the case of public complaints about the use of non-ethically compliant suppliers.
- Establishment of a “virtuous circle”: As happened for ISO 9001 certification, when the first organizations adhere to a standard, they often require that their suppliers also do the same, thus triggering a chain certification process.
- Increase in product loyalty: The SA 8000 certified organization establishes a relationship of trust between consumers, a good image that leads, over time, to a true and proper purchasing loyalty towards brands or the company logo.