The resilience of supply chains is intrinsically linked to the status and wellbeing of women: When women’s health and access to opportunities are compromised, their productivity and efficiency suffers. Yet the systems currently used by brands and suppliers to verify that basic rights and working conditions are upheld in their supply chains do not integrate a gender dimension. In particular, women’s rights and workplace-specific challenges are often not reflected in supplier codes of conduct and are addressed in very limited ways, if at all, in the auditing methodologies used to verify compliance with such codes.

To help companies address this issue, BSR—with support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs—is pleased to launch guidance that identifies the main improvements required for gender-sensitive social auditing and provides recommendations, practical advice, and relevant examples on how to effectively integrate gender considerations into audits. This new Gender Equality in Social Auditing Guidance is based on and complements the Gender Equality in Codes of Conduct Guidance published in 2017. 

The Guidance:

  • Considers the systemic barriers that prevent current social audits from being more gender-sensitive and provides recommendations for overcoming such barriers.
  • Explores how best to integrate gender considerations within existing auditing verification measures and across the different principles in supplier codes of conduct.
  • Highlights the vital process of worker interviews and considers how to maximize their effectiveness in picking up gender-sensitive issues.
  • Evaluates methodologies, such as worker engagement approaches, that are not traditionally related to social auditing but that may enhance the ability of companies to identify gendered issues and effectively design remediation plans to improve workplace conditions for women.
  • Assesses the broader range of strategies that companies should consider for monitoring their suppliers and whether such strategies may complement or partly replace social audits.

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