Auditing resources

Sedex encourages knowledge sharing and aims to spread good practice in ethical trade. Below, we have compiled some useful information and resources on ethical and social auditing.

How to get started with ethical audits

Ask your customer about their audit requirements

Some customers may set certain audit requirements e.g. which auditing companies / audit certificates they will accept. Please always check with your customer before booking an audit.

Types of audits

The Sedex system will accept any type of first party, second party and third party ethical audit:-

First party audit: An audit performed within an organisation by the organisation’s own auditing resource (internal audit). This will often highlight areas for improvement which can  be corrected before the visit from an external auditor.

Second Party audit: Audits of contractors/suppliers undertaken by or on behalf of a purchasing organisation. These can be used to identify problems which can be worked on together.

Third party audit: Audits of organisations undertaken by an independent certification body or registrar or similar third party organisation. This is the most commonly used audit for most Sedex members and is widely accepted as more impartial.

All of the above audits can be useful. However, it is important to check your customer’s requirements before committing to a particular audit type.

Finding an audit company

The Local Resources Network (LRN) is a database where you can search for audit companies in your area. You may also be able to find a local consultant who can help you to implement changes in your organisation.

If you are an auditor, you can upload audits for suppliers and customers to the Sedex system. Download our Auditor Guidance Pack (part 1) (1.15MB) to find out how to register and get started.

Prepare for your audit

Pre-Audit Information Pack

This information pack provides suppliers / supplier sites with essential pre-audit information to help them prepare for a SMETA audit. It has been assembled from an auditor’s perspective, and for an auditor’s use. 

SMETA support documents

The Sedex working groups have produced a series of documents which offer guidance on what to expect from an ethical audit, what systems and actions you can take to prepare for your audit, and how to address any non-compliances.

These documents are an added benefit for Sedex members only and are located in the ‘Resources’ section of the Sedex system. Visit our ‘SMETA’ section for a full list of available documents.

Check local law

You can check the law for your region on the NATLEX Database – a database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation maintained by the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department. Some auditing companies may also provide this service for you.

More information

The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has some useful resources on ethical and social auditing, including:

FAQs on social auditing

Getting smarter at auditing

Risk Assessment Toolkit

Quick fix or lasting solution – dealing responsibly with non-compliances

The GSCP reference tools

 To drive convergence, the GSCP is building a set of reference tools that describe best existing practice, uphold relevant International Standards and provide a common interpretation of fair labour and environmental requirements and their implementation.

This set of reference tools includes the tools typically found in a monitoring system: a reference code, reference audit process and methodology, reference guidelines for auditing competence and reference tools on buying companies’ management systems, for both social and environmental compliance. Access the tools here.

For information on different codes and standards please see our ‘Useful links’ section.