The client is a large European luxury goods conglomerate that is made up of a number of independently-run subsidiary brands.
QIMA began working with the client in 2014. At this time, each of the client’s brands had their own approach to social compliance and environmental auditing. Some brands were more advanced with robust programs, while some had very few standards in place. With a lack of consistent standards, it was very difficult for the client to verify suppliers’ social and environmental compliance across the board.
With QIMA’s experience in establishing comprehensive audit programs internationally, we were in a position to apply a rigorous and cohesive process to the way the client’s brands carry out social and environmental audits.
We initially worked with one of the subsidiary brands that had the most advanced auditing program, helping the brand to establish a new audit protocol that was tailored to their particular business needs. The new audit protocol included neighbor audits where we stay for 30 minutes after the factory audit is completed to interview neighboring businesses to understand the habits of the factory and its workers, for example if they come back to work after the shift has finished.
An additional step was added to the protocol which involves asking feedback from the factory and auditor as to how the audit went, with a fact-based report sent to the client. We also provide a document which includes benchmarks against other factories in the same country or industry.
After time we began collaboratively working with more and more of the subsidiary brands and the client’s social sustainability group to apply the same protocol across all of the brands, ultimately acting as the driving force to create a standardized audit approach at a group level for social compliance and environmental auditing, and raising the level of awareness of auditing.
Regardless of whether a brand is using QIMA’s audit protocol, their own standards or an internationally-recognized framework, the audit report must now include a detailed summary of findings upfront which makes it easier to compare and share results across protocols.
Since 2014, the number of brands using QIMA’s audit standardized protocol has grown from one to 20, and this is continuing to grow each year. In 2020, a total of 2,407 non-compliances were identified by QIMA auditors and were resolved by the client.
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