Certification to the SA 8000 requires every facility seeking certification to be audited. Auditors visit factories to assess corporate practice on a wide range of issues and evaluate the state of a company’s management systems. A certificate is awarded attesting company’s compliance to SA 8000. The certificate is a testimony of the organisation’s good practice processes and significantly improves workplace conditions. The certification process is a multiple-step process. The certification cycle is described briefly:
- Gap Analysis
- Awareness Training
- Documentation Design and finalization
- Internal Auditor Training and conduct of internal audit
- Management Review Meeting
- Review of Implementation
- Pre-assessment audit
- Stage 1 – certification audit
- Stage 2 – certification audit
- Award of SA 8000 certification
- Continual improvement of the system through value added consulting and training services
The SA8000 provides two separate ways for companies looking forward to demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility.
The first way is taking membership. This is designed for businesses that are doing retailing. The organization has to give commitment to do business only with socially responsible suppliers.
SA8000 members are offered a self-assessment package and other tools to help them implement a policy on social responsibility. They are expected to notify their suppliers of their intention to implement SA8000 standards, and to set a timeframe for phasing out dealings with companies that fail to meet those requirements.
Member companies are also required to produce an annual report describing their SA8000 objectives, and outlining progress that has been made towards those goals. These reports are verified by SAI(Social Accountability International).
The second way is certification. It is intended for manufacturers and suppliers themselves. The process is a stringent one, which begins with the company contacting an accredited auditor. Having demonstrated compliance with existing regulations and assessed how current practice compares with the provisions of SA8000, the company is given the status of ‘SA8000 applicant’.
The business then implements an SA8000 programme, which is scrutinized by a ‘pre-assessment audit’. Any improvements that are recommended should be implemented before the formal audit takes place.
After the formal assessment, the company is again given the opportunity to rectify any shortcomings, before being assessed again. If at the end of this process the auditors are satisfied that the company is fully compliant, they will recommend an SA8000 certificate, valid for three years.