The SA8000® is a social accountability standard. It is used to consider the social impact to employees, partners and suppliers. Social Accountability International (SAI) created the standard in 1997 basing it on internationally recognized standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Law Organisation conventions as well as national laws.
The standard has been widely adopted, at time of writing, it covers over 2,000,000 employees in 4,000 organisations across over 57 industries in 61 countries! The textiles industry makes up over 25% of these organisations! See the exact statistics here.
The standard cover these 9 areas:
- Child Labor
- Forced or Compulsory Labor
- Health and Safety
- Freedom of Association & Right to Collective Bargaining
- Disciplinary Practices
- Working Hours
- Management Systems
Brand/ Retailer benefits
The standard can be used in lieu of using first or second party social auditing. It gives the supplier ownership of its social compliance removing the complicated relationship of the buyers auditing the supplying supplier. The resources that would have been used for auditing can then be used or spent elsewhere, ideally on further social programs!
SAI state that for employee’s, SA8000® ensures safe and healthy working conditions, a living wage and education around rights. It also improves working relationships between employees and management. Finally it encourages more input in workplace decision making.
SAI also states that the employer also benefits from the improved working relationships with employees. Further to this it can improve communication with customers and other stakeholders. In the workplace it improves management and workflows and therefore quality, productivity, supply chain control and employee retention. It also improves reputation and therefore attractiveness to external buyers and government tenders.