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What criteria do Sedex, Smeta-certified jewelry factories undergo during an audit?


SEDEX (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) is a global membership organization dedicated to driving improvements in ethical and responsible business practices in global supply chains. SMETA (SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit) is one of the most widely used social audit procedures in the world. It provides a globally-recognized way to assess and report on responsible practices covering labor, health and safety, environment, and business ethics in the supply chain.

When a SEDEX SMETA-certified auditor conducts an audit in factories, they assess the following areas:

Labour Standards:

  • Child Labour: Checking that there's no use of child labor in the facility.
  • Forced Labour: Ensuring workers are employed on their own free will, without any form of coercion.
  • Health and Safety: Verifying that the workplace is safe, and there are no threats to workers' health.
  • Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining: Workers should have the right to form or join trade unions and bargain collectively.
  • Discrimination: There should be no discrimination in hiring, compensation, training, promotion, termination, or retirement.
  • Disciplinary Practices: Checking for any harsh or inhumane treatment of workers.
  • Working Hours: Ensuring compliance with national laws and benchmark industry standards.
  • Wages and Benefits: Verifying that wages and benefits meet the legal requirements or industry benchmarks.
Health and Safety:
  • General and Specific Workplace Hazards: Checking for potential risks in the factory environment.
  • Safety Procedures and Training: Ensuring that safety protocols are in place and workers are trained.
  • Access to Clean Facilities: Such as toilets, drinking water, and canteens.
  • Adequate Protective Gear: Ensuring workers have and use personal protective equipment where required.
  • Emergency Procedures: Checking for evacuation plans, fire safety measures, and first aid provisions.
Environmental Assessment:
  • Environmental Permits and Reporting: Ensuring the facility meets local environmental regulations and has the necessary permits.
  • Waste Management: Proper disposal methods for solid and hazardous waste.
  • Energy Use and Carbon Emissions: Evaluating the factory's energy consumption patterns and carbon footprint.
  • Water Use and Disposal: Checking water sourcing, usage, and disposal processes.
Business Ethics:
  • Business Integrity: Checking for any signs of corruption, bribery, or other unethical business practices.
  • Transparency and Traceability: Ensuring transparency in business practices and clarity in the supply chain.
  • Confidentiality and Data Protection: Ensuring that worker and business data is securely managed and protected.
Entitlement to Work and Immigration:
  • Legal Employment: Verifying that all workers have a legal right to work, especially in regions with a high risk of illegal employment.
  • Document Verification: Checking workers' documentation to ensure authenticity and validity.
Subcontracting and Homeworking:
  • Ensuring that any subcontracted work or homeworking is declared and meets the same ethical and safety standards.

    During the audit, auditors will often review documents, interview workers and management, and physically inspect the facility. The goal is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the working conditions and practices in place. After the audit, a report is prepared, highlighting any areas of non-compliance or concern, allowing businesses to take corrective actions.

    When evaluating to work with a new jewelry factory, ask for any third party audits that the company undergoes. Ask them when their last audit was and if there were any criteria that did not pass the audit. Established and sustainable jewelry manufacturers will often conduct bi-annual audits in order to stay current with new safety and environmental standards. 

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