The SCI aims to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue

The SCI aims to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue

A new initiative has launched to try to tackle the problem of audit and standard fatigue in the clothing and textile industries.

The Standards Convergence Initiative (SCI) was unveiled by the International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) and the International Apparel Federation (IAF) during a side session organised by the two bodies at the OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector, which was held online last week.

"The auditing conduct of standard holders, along with brands, retailers, and other buyers' decisions determines if we are moving firmly in the direction of less unnecessary overlap of audits and standards," the two groups said.

"Therefore, one of the first steps of the SCI, in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC), is to create transparency in the conduct of the main standard holders, brands and retailers and third party standard holders, measuring to what extent they are contributing to the reduction of audit and standard fatigue."

It has identified four criteria to gauge standard holders' commitment to reduce audit and standard fatigue that will be carried out by ITC:

  • Willingness to harmonise standards;
  • Compliance with Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and International Labour Organization (ILO) guidelines;
  • The use of existing platform to avoid audit duplication; and
  • Global certification of auditors.

During the session at the OECD Forum, the ITC explained how its Standards Map Database will be used to measure and monitor standard convergence in the industry. First results of the monitoring are expected in the third quarter of 2021.

In addition to this monitoring exercise, the SCI will try to collaboration between different groups that are each working on a partial solution. And because large brands and retailers sticking to their own standards blocks the reduction of standard fatigue, the SCI will continuously call on these brands and retailers to either drop their proprietary standards in favour of third party standards or to collaborate in other ways that observably reduce audit and standard fatigue.