Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) is one of the most widely used ethical audit formats in the world.
SMETA is designed to meet multiple customer requirements and reduce duplications in ethical auditing. It has three elements – a common Best Practice Guidance on conducting ethical trade audits, a common Audit Report format, and a common Corrective Action Plan format.
An estimated 280,000 SMETAs have been conducted to date with 93,000 of those on the Sedex Advance system.
SMETA is developed and maintained by the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (the SSF). The latest version of SMETA was launched in April 2017, with an implementation date of June 1st 2017. The companies in this working group include 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:
Sedex improvements to audit data quality and changes to SMETA
We are currently working to further improve audit data quality and improve Sedex’s ability to track the status of audits. As part of this, we are making some changes to accessing SMETA, and the upload of SMETA/non-SMETA audits. Each audit will now carry a unique reference code, to ensure the SMETA audit is appropriately validated.
From 1st November 2018, all auditors conducting a SMETA audit will be required to pay a fee for accessing and uploading audits on the Sedex system.
- SMETA Audits will be £50 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members
- SMETA Audits will be £150 per audit for audits conducted for non-Sedex Members
- Non-SMETA Audits will be £200 per audit for audits conducted for Sedex Members.
This cost is fixed and will be charged directly to the audit company. We have aimed to keep this cost to a minimum, whilst continuing our aim to reduce the number of audits required by customers.
All costs will be reinvested back into our products and services for our members.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Sedex making these changes?
We are currently working to improve the quality of the audit data on the Sedex platform. Making these changes will help us to track SMETA audits and ensure these are appropriately validated. All costs for audit uploads will be reinvested into Sedex products and services for our members.
What are the benefits of these improvements?
These changes will improve the quality of audit data and ensure audits carry more validity, therefore improving the effectiveness of audits. This will ultimately help reduce duplication and reduce the cost of audits for businesses in the long term.
What other actions is Sedex taking to improve audit data quality?
We are currently making changes to our Auditor Accounts with Sedex. As of 1st November 2018, all Independent Auditor accounts will be cancelled and Sedex will no longer accept audits from Independent Auditors.
If you are using an Independent Auditor to complete audits of your site, you will need to ensure all non-compliances are closed with corrective actions on your account by 31st October 2018. Current Independent Auditors can apply for an Affiliate Audit Company (AAC) account with Sedex at any time. For more information, please contact email@example.com
What support is available for SMETA users?
Sedex working groups have produced a series of documents which help you know what to expect from a SMETA audit, what systems and actions you can take to prepare for your audit, and how to address any non-compliances. Some of these are openly available, others are available only to Sedex members.
- Guide to Completing a SMETA 6.0 Report and a
- Guide to Completing a SMETA 6.0 Corrective Action Plan Report
These have been put together using fictitious information to demonstrate to SMETA users how to complete a SMETA report. They give more explanation of the type of information required. Please note the example uses typical information from China; it may vary for other countries.
- 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.
Sedex-member only SMETA support documents:
These documents are available to Sedex members only, via Sedex e-Learning. To access Sedex e-Learning, log in to Sedex Advance and click on the Sedex e-Learning icon.
- SMETA documents in English/Mandarin and English/Spanish
- 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
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:
Other ethical auditing advice
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.
Finding an audit company
The Local Resources Network (LRN) is a database where you can search for audit companies in your area.
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.
- The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has some useful resources on ethical and social auditing.
“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