KEY POINTS

A global team of 30 people, reporting directly to the company’s board, conducts more than 1,000 plant visits annually and 400 training sessions for factory managers and workers. The company’s goal is to integrate labor standards compliance into all functions of its supply-chain management. An audit process is used to identify problems and to discover trends that will allow it to assess the risk of compliance violations at the factory and country levels. Different cultural backdrops, legal regimes, and the complexity of supply chains make assessment difficult.

reporting is a monitoring system that involves more than 1,000 plant visits per year and 400 training sessions for factory workers and managers. AS has integrated into all the functional aspects of its supply-chain management the idea that labor standards are important; it supports the core labor standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and has employment guidelines to which its suppliers are required to conform.

To achieve this goal, AS investigates and evaluates potential suppliers; after choosing a supplier, it jointly develops a plan for ensuring compliance, including reference guidelines. In an ideal world, all suppliers would build compliance with international labor standards (ILS) into their overall business plans, but because the reality is different, AS monitors its suppliers through a review process conducted by both internal and external auditors. When problems are found, an action plan is developed to correct any violations and regular follow-up is undertaken. Through these audits, AS also hopes to discover trends that will allow it to assess the risk of compliance violations occurring among different suppliers and countries; it then identifies mediumand high-risk environments and initiates a program of education and training in order to minimize the potential for violations.

There are many challenges, not the least of which is the complexity of trying to assess compliance in many different countries with varying legal codes and cultural frameworks. A consistent approach is preferred, but at times this can encounter cultural and legal barriers, including the inadequacy of national labor law. For example, the assessment of freedom of association might vary depending on the country in which the factory is



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