Sedex Audit Quality Programme: driving continuous improvement in social auditing

The Sedex Audit Quality Programme is a new quality assurance initiative announced earlier this year. Through risk assessment, monitoring, training and performance management with Affiliate Audit Companies, the programme aims to raise the quality of SMETA audits. 


To support our commitment to continuous improvement in audit quality, we have been working to progress the Audit Quality Programme (AQP) since introducing it in July 2020. 

We’re pleased to announce that the programme will take full effect from January 2021. We have shared the AQP policy, rules of engagement and other details with Sedex Affiliate Audit Companies (AACs) and will provide them with increased training and support from January.  


What is the Audit Quality Programme?  

SMETA is one of Sedex’s core assessment tools and is central to the responsible sourcing programmes of many businesses. As a result, the quality of our SMETA audits is paramount for us and our members. To drive this quality, we are dedicated to continuous improvement to ensure that SMETA audits are carried out to the best possible standard.  

The Sedex Audit Quality Programme is a strategic quality assurance programme aimed at maintaining SMETA as the leading social audit methodology. It is designed to:  

  • Raise the quality of SMETA audits 
  • Improve the detection and reporting of onsite issues, and
  • Ensure consistency of auditing techniques. 

We achieve this by monitoring our Affiliate Audit Companies and assessing any risks that are identifiedperforming closer analysis on audit companies and auditors recognised as high risk. We will also be tracking and benchmarking key performance indicators, creating dashboards for audit companies to view and compare their performance, to drive improvementsWe are delighted to partner with risk consultancy Control Risks to support these activities.  

We will also increase the support available to audit companiefrom Sedex. From January 2021 we will implement an annual activity cycle with required training and will provide AACs with access to our risk assessment tool (Radar) so that they may use it to improve detection of issues at site level when carrying out SMETA audits. 


Full launch of Audit Quality Programme in January 2021 

A number of measures relating to the programme come into effect in January 2021. These include: 

  • Only audit companies that are full members of APSCA (the professional membership body for social auditing) will be authorised to conduct SMETA audits 
  • We will actively monitor the performance of our Affiliate Audit Companies through key performance indicators and selected activities at individual AAC level  
  • New training and support for Affiliate Audit Companies becomes available. 

We look forward to working closely with our Affiliate Audit Companies to drive increased audit quality for Sedex members, supporting them to trade more responsibly and effectively manage ethical risks in their supply chains. 

Learn more about the Sedex Audit Quality Programme here 

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