Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) is one of the most widely used ethical audit formats in the world.

SMETA is an audit methodology, providing a compilation of best practice ethical audit techniques. It is designed to help auditors conduct high quality audits that encompass all aspects of responsible business practice, covering Sedex’s four pillars of Labour, Health and Safety, Environment and Business Ethics.

SMETA is designed for suppliers to share one audit with multiple customers, meeting multiple customer requirements and reducing duplication in ethical auditing. SMETA has three elements:

  1. A common Best Practice Guidance on conducting ethical trade audits
  2. A common Audit Report format
  3. A common Corrective Action Plan format.

Nearly 20,000 SMETA audits are uploaded onto the Sedex platform every year. 

Each SMETA audit carries a unique reference code to ensure the SMETA audit is appropriately validated. It can be used in a regular site audit or in the Sedex Offline Audit Tool. SMETA is available in English, Spanish and Chinese.


SMETA Guidance Workflow

Are you new to Sedex and want to know more about ethical auditing and SMETA? Whether you are a supplier preparing for your SMETA audit, an auditor using SMETA or a buyer who needs their suppliers audited, you can find step by step guidance on Sedex e-Learning.


SMETA is available for all Sedex Members, who would like to have a SMETA audit.
Only auditors with a Sedex Affiliate Audit Company (AAC) account can conduct SMETA. Sedex Members with an A or AB account can conduct SMETA for their own sites.

All auditors conducting SMETA are required to pay a fee to access SMETA or upload (non-SMETA) audits on the Sedex platform. This cost is fixed and will be charged directly to the audit company:

• SMETA Audits are £50 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members
• SMETA Audits are £150 per audit for audits conducted for non-Sedex Members
• Non-SMETA Audits are £200 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members.

For more information, please contact


We review and update SMETA on a regular basis to ensure it is meeting the current needs of responsible sourcing and incorporates new updates to legislation changes.

SMETA is developed and maintained by the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (the SSF). The latest version of SMETA was updated in April 2017, and was worked on by Amcor, Bureau Veritas, DNV, Givaudan, Kellogg, M&S, Pepsico, SAB Miller/ABInbev, SGS and Walmart.

To learn more about the updated features in SMETA 6.0, please watch a recording of one of our webinars:


Frequently Asked Questions

What guidance is available for SMETA users?

There are a series of guidance documents to help you know:

  • What to expect from a SMETA audit
  • Systems and actions you can take to prepare for your audit
  • How to address any non-compliances.
  • Guidance on Operational Practice and Indicators of Forced Labour How to spot the signs of actual, likely or possible cases of forced labour, for both auditors and audit readers.
  • SMETA supplement for service providers Guidance supplement for assessing working conditions for employees of service providers and contractors working at sites of Sedex member companies or remotely from their employer’s operation.

Additional documents are available specifically for Sedex members via Sedex e-Learning.

  • Guide to social systems auditor competencies: To assist members when selecting auditors based on defined competencies
  • Non–compliance guidance: A common approach to examples of non-compliances, grading of severity, and suggested timeframes for correction
  • Corrective action guidance: Suggested possible corrective actions following a SMETA audit
  • Draft guidance for an assessment process of environment and business ethics: A procedure for looking at the environmental and business ethics performance of a site as part of a SMETA

What other types of audits does Sedex accept?

Types of audits:

Sedex Advance 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 a 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.

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.

Further resources

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

How do I feedback on SMETA?

We are keen to hear from SMETA users of all kinds. Your feedback will help shape future versions of SMETA and best practice documents. To tell us what you think, please fill in one of our short online forms:

“For us the business case is simple. We need to ensure that the suppliers we partner with are working in an ethical manner, and SMETA offers robust ethical audits that help inform and guide us when making these decisions. And because our suppliers can share those audits with multiple buyers, we all avoid unnecessary duplication, saving time and money across the supply chain.”

Sharon Childs – Finance Director and Head of Sustainability at The Sourcing Team

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