Non-profit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) has developed a set of guidelines aimed at making audits in the supply chain more gender-sensitive and driving progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

With support from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the guidance 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.

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It is based on, and complements, the Gender Equality in Codes of Conduct Guidance published in 2017. It serves two main purposes: to help auditing companies and social auditors identify and support the implementation of the changes required to make social audits more gender sensitive; and to provide recommendations for organisations to transform the systems that govern social auditing requirements, thereby ensuring gender considerations are fully and sustainably integrated into social auditing processes.

More specifically, 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.

“While transparency may transform the current accountability dynamics and push companies and suppliers to take ownership of the issues that affect their workers, it will not fix the issues by itself,” a report outlining the new guidance notes.

“Transparency may be a means to change but it cannot realise the change on its own. The need for companies to partner with suppliers and engage their women workers directly to shift workplace practices and play their part in disrupting gender norms will remain. In this context and beyond compliance, worker engagement tools and approaches remain central in co-creating workplace solutions that address the needs of and benefit both women and men workers.”

Click here to access the guidance report.