A Primer on CSR Standards and Sourcing in China

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This post is the first in a series presenting the current status of CSR sourcing in China. Part two will follow next week.

factory girl.jpgRecognizing the large scale of the social implications of actions taken by large firms, many firms began implementing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies in the mid-twentieth century. Today, producing a CSR report is a common marketing tool that allows organizations to demonstrate their support of social principles. Studies show a correlation between CSR activities, consumer activity, and appetite for high-quality goods and services. 

Because many factories in China have labelled themselves as SA8000 certified (an international social auditing standard), we use SA8000 as the foundation of our social audits. The following checklist forms the backbone of our social auditing activities in the Chinese and Southeast Asian markets. 

Also, the auditor should require factory managers to present all relevant documents for each requirement. In many cases, Chinese factory managers claim that while they adhere to CSR standards, they are will not share their records. The following provides an outline of a CSR audit with which managers can customise to meet their particular needs.

Guiding Social Audit Principles
    • Safety issues
        • Do factories post emergency evacuation plans in the correct locations?
        • Do factories put warning labels on chemical containers?
        • Do factories conduct trainings with relevant employees for the handling of toxic substances?
        • Are secondary containers used for chemicals stored in the chemical material warehouse and transfer area?
        • Do factories keep the emergency doors unlocked all the time?
        • Are smoke detectors located throughout the factory?
    • Health and hygiene
        • Is there an accident and injury log available for reference?
        • Is there emergency equipment, such as first aid kits, available in the factory? 
        • Does the factory have access to medical services? (It is recommended that the factory sign a medical service contract with the nearest hospital.)
    • Working hours
        • Do employees exceed the daily (60 hours per week) and weekly (six days per week) limits for working time?
    • Child labour, forced and compulsory labour
        • In China, it is illegal to employ workers under the age of 16.
        • Any form of forced labour, such as forced prison labour, is also forbidden.
    • Remuneration and compensation
        • Do employees’ wages meet local requirements?
    • Labour unions, discrimination and disciplinary practices
        • Are employees free to join labour unions and participate in collective bargaining?
        • Do the managers engage in any kind of workplace discrimination? 
  • Photo credit: psit (Flickr)

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