FAQ

SMETA 4-pillars has been designed to meet a number of objectives which includes promotion of responsible sourcing within the supply chain and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of evaluation using a common methodology and allowing for the exchange of assessment data.

What does SMETA stand for and what are the four pillars?

SMETA is the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit. SMETA 4-pillars was developed by AIM (Association des Industries Marque) in order to meet the changing needs of consumer goods organisations. Placing a greater emphasis on environmental issues and business integrity, SMETA 4-pillars goes beyond the requirements of a standard SMETA audit.

What is SMETA?

SMETA is an audit used by brands and retailers that are members of Sedex and incorporates three elements:

  • A common best practice guidance on conducting ethical trade audits
  • A common audit report format
  • A common corrective action plan format. 

What is SMETA-AIM?

SMETA AIM stands for Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit / Association des Industries Marque. SMETA AIM is:

  • A common audit format developed and accepted by AIM PROGRESS members to be uploaded to Sedex
  • Common suppliers assessment method (audit)
  • Greater emphasis on environmental and business integrity than a regular SMETA audit.

So what is AIM-PROGRESS and what are the four pillars it is based on?

  • AIM-PROGRESS is a forum of consumer goods companies assembled to enable and promote responsible sourcing practices and sustainable production systems. It is a global initiative supported and sponsored by AIM in Europe and the GMA in North America.
  • It aims to develop and promote the use of common evaluation methods to determine CSR performance within the supply chain and drive efficiencies for all companies by collecting, assessing and sharing noncompetitive information on supply chain CSR performance.

AIM = Association des Industries Marque

PROGRESS = PROGramme for RESponsible Sourcing

The AIM Progress programme is based on four pillars:

  1. Labour Standards
  2. Health & Safety
  3. Environmental
  4. Business Integrity.

Why is responsible sourcing important?

Branded goods manufacturers have high Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aspirations, including Responsible Sourcing, and need to:

  • Make sure these are not put at risk by issues such as poor labour standards in our supply chains
  • Take active measures to mitigate such risk
  • Be efficient and effective in implementing such measures.

How do companies implement responsible sourcing in their supply chains?

This can be done in a number of ways, but the main ones are as follows: 

  • Supplier Codes 
  • Supplier Assessments 
  • Site Audits 
  • Corrective Actions/Remediation.

What are the benefits of external audits?

There are a number of benefits including: 

  • Auditing Bodies are independent third parties ensuring neutrality and credibility
  • An international network ensuring both worldwide presence and knowledge of local language, culture and legislation, senior experienced in human resources, safety, health and environment
  • Benchmark against other companies
  • Only three auditing companies are referenced by AIM Progress in order to: 1) ensure quality and homogeneity, 2) and above all generate a learning curve to counter the limitation of audits (shows one moment in time).

Is Sedex based on a specific code?

Sedex stores information on ethical and responsible practices covered by ILO Conventions, ETI Base Code, SA8000, ISO14001 and industry specific codes of conduct. Sedex members can use the information on the system to evaluate suppliers against any of these codes or the labour standards provisions in individual corporate codes. Sedex itself does not specify a particular code or state that suppliers have ‘passed’ or ‘failed’.

How does Sedex differ from other organisations such as the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI)?

Sedex is an online database which allows companies to store and view data on ethical and responsible business practices. Sedex does not set any standards or determine the policy of its members. It is purely a tool for facilitating access to information.

Is Sedex just adding another level of bureaucracy?

No; Sedex aims to prevent the unnecessary duplication of information. We are driving convergence in ethical trade and believe that Sedex can actually help to reduce bureaucracy. By becoming a member of Sedex you only have to fill out one questionnaire and can share this with multiple customers.

Is the information on Sedex accurate?

The rules of Sedex require members to use their best endeavours to ensure that the information placed on Sedex is correct. However, we do not verify or validate this information. If you need validation of the data we suggest that you request a third party ethical audit to be conducted at the supplier’s site.

I’m a supplier and I already provide selfassessment and audit information to my customers; what are the benefits of Sedex for me?

Sedex provides an efficient and cost effective way of communicating with your customers, by making one set of data available to multiple customers. This helps reduce the need for multiple audits, allowing both parties to concentrate on making improvements.

SMETA 4 Pillars Responsible Sourcing

SMETA 4-pillars has been designed to meet a number of objectives which includes promotion of responsible sourcing within the supply chain and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of evaluation using a common methodology and allowing for the exchange of assessment data.