The Pandemic’s Impact on Social Audit Programs


Executing social audits in a COVID-19 world

Lockdowns and restrictions posed the greatest challenge to social audit programs, as auditors and most staff could not physically be on-site. The need to assure existing and new suppliers became difficult, and uncertainty over the length of lockdowns and the pandemic added to the situation.

Helping organizations to continue supply chain due diligence

For lockdowns, we can show you where audits are possible and use our new remote assessment methodology to serve your needs, as well as engage with different industry initiatives to develop and execute new remote solutions.

As organizations’ confidence regarding the remote setting grow, they can implement remote assessment solutions or delay/extend deadlines for audits in factories that do not qualify for remote auditing. They can also collaborate more, leverage existing reports and consider self-assessment verification.

The initial challenges of remote assessments

There were two key challenges to overcome to ensure remote assessment effectiveness and success. Auditees needed to familiarize themselves with the relevant IT tools and the triangulation method needed to be adapted to the sources of information available for verification.

Triangulation was not lacking because we use different sources of information and evidence, as opposed to three different source types. Group interviews were conducted when individual worker interviews only happened based on the country and types of industry and business, taking all precautions to protect workers and minimize retaliation risk.

What the future holds

Remote assessments are here to stay, especially considering the new services that support organizational due diligence and compensate for the lack of on-site visits, such as the worker’s feedback mechanism.

Clients are also looking to adopt hybrid audits that offer even greater flexibility in the way they are conducted. For example, the auditor can do a desktop verification before conducting a shorter on-site visit or while a facilitator oversees interviews on-site or assisting with tasks like a factory walkthrough.

How we can help you through the “new normal”

Understanding that organizations needed to evolve, we evolved our services to meet the challenges of the pandemic. We also maintained our footprint to ensure that we were ready to support clients when things became more “normal”.

Our strong mix of self-assessments, remote and on-site assessments, leveraging our market-leading footprint including our coverage, available data analytics and auditor capabilities, can address whatever the pandemic throws at you.

Expert advice

Johanna Lanza, Global Business Development Manager, and Anastasia Spathi, Global Technical Governance Manager, from SGS Responsible Business Services discussed this topic in greater detail during our first Ask The Expert webinar. Watch it here



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