Sedex Stakeholder Forum (SSF) – Manchester Summary

The Autumn Sedex Stakeholder Forum (SSF) took place on October 10th in Manchester. The meeting was attended by a variety of Sedex members including buyers, suppliers, audit firms, stakeholders and guests visiting the event for their first time. The forum develops effective responsible sourcing solutions for the industry through collaboration by working groups with a Sedex representative on each group.

The Chair of the SSF, David Lawrence, together with Sophie Preisig, SSF Manager, introduced the group to a more global approach, whereby the forum will engage with as many international members as possible for feedback and input into working groups through a live stream of the event around the world, whilst the autumn meeting may continue to be located outside of London.

The group heard from Sedex CEO, Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, on how there will be a commitment for each working group to be co-led by a Sedex member company representative and a designated Sedex staff member. The working groups of the SSF are positioned around the Continuous Improvement Cycle. This relates to our theme of the Sedex Conference in March 2018 of “Impact through Leadership. Defining ‘Beyond Compliance’ in Responsible Sourcing” and the progress of the SSF will reinforce this.

The forum has the opportunity to hear updates from industry initiatives, and in Manchester,

we heard from the Association of Professional Social Compliance Auditors (APSCA) about their social auditing certification scheme. Sedex will work closely with APSCA and their auditors (who are going through initial pilot stages this month) as we look to increase the professionalism, consistency and credibility of individual auditors and organisations performing independent social compliance audits.

Our meeting last month was unique because we launched the first ever UK User Group, looking at UK-specific social auditing issues (such as UK living wage, transparency and benchmarking as well as how post-Brexit conditions may affect supply chains) that can be supported by Sedex. This group is intended to be an exemplar, setting the way for more nationally focused groups in the future who will be spread across the world tackling domestic issues associated with social auditing. An Auditor Network Group is also being piloted to offer auditors an opportunity to discuss issues related to how they use the Sedex platform. The objective is to have a global representation of auditors coming together to discuss critical and sensitive issues, SMETA 6.0 feedback and some longer-term work on auditor membership.

Each working group provided the forum with an update on which projects they are working on and how they are progressing within their area of the Continuous Improvement Cycle. We heard about the launch of the Forced Labour Indicator Reports as well as several other products which are in development. The working groups are focused around SMETA, Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ), Audit Quality, Joint Remediation, Forced Labour, Training and Capacity Building, Reporting and Metrics, Impact Assessment, Technology and we also heard about the Sustainable Development Goals and how these are becoming more relevant to member reporting. Whilst being an active part of a working group is vital for the success of the SSF, we also gave the Forum the opportunity to engage in an interactive session which allowed them to use the room to provide feedback to the other working groups. This proved to be a successful session, with the work-stream leaders providing some invaluable industry feedback on how to successfully progress their projects.

The day ended with Jonathan thanking the group for their participation and for travelling to Manchester. There was positive feedback from the group on the commitment of having Sedex co-leads for each working group, and this level of resource investment will continue. We are also increasing the capacity within the Sedex technology team to help support the quality and timings of delivery, as well as within communications as we research an online extranet that will allow SSF members to collaborate and continue discussions more efficiently.

Thank you to everyone who attended the October meeting in Manchester, we look forward to welcoming you back along with any new participants to the next SSF on March 12th in London, the day before the Sedex Conference 2018, for which tickets are now available.


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