Human rights in our supply chain
As an international company with global supply chains, The ALDI SOUTH Group is aware of our responsibility towards the protection of human rights. The ALDI SOUTH Group is certain that long-term business success can only be ensured if human rights are acknowledged and protected. We believe that companies should be committed to respecting human rights and preventing human rights violations. Our commitment therefore encompasses our own business operations and our business relationships, as well as those indirectly caused by our actions. For more information about the protection of human rights within the ALDI SOUTH Group, please click here. You can also view the ALDI SOUTH Group’s Human Rights Policy here which outlines our human rights due diligence process and future commitments.
Our Ethical Trade Programme aims to improve working conditions at sites that make Aldi products, particularly those in high-risk countries or product categories. All suppliers in the programme must be a member of a supply chain management platform, either Sedex (the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) or amfori BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative).
To show that they can meet our ethical standards and requirements, suppliers must also arrange for one of the following independent third-party ethical audits or certifications of their production sites;
• amfori BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) ethical audit
• SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit)
• ICTI Ethical Toy Program
• SA8000 (Social Accountability International standard)
• Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) audit, formerly Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC)
• Better Work
These audits, carried out by independent third-party organisations, verify whether suppliers meet our ethical requirements and must be carried out if the supplier’s site is located in a ‘high-risk’ country as defined by amfori BSCI.
Remediation of issues is organised on a case-by-case basis, dependent on a number of factors including the severity of the issue, progress against the Corrective Action Plan and the willingness of the supplier to work collaboratively towards improvement.
We recognise that standards in our supply chain may not initially reach those set out in Aldi’s Social Standards in Production. In such cases, Aldi is committed to working with suppliers to achieve continuous improvement.
We expect our suppliers to take responsibility for monitoring and improving working conditions at all sites along their supply chains which are used to produce our products. We also expect them to adopt an approach to ethical trade that goes ‘beyond compliance’ and focuses on continuous improvement. However, we know from experience that third-party audits may not always provide a true picture of working conditions at a supplier site. In addition to third-party audits, we also carry out our own ethical audits and site visits through our Aldi Social Assessments.
Aldi Social Assessment Programme
Aldi Social Assessments are carried out by a team of qualified ethical auditors based in our CR offices in Bangladesh and Hong Kong. This local expertise means we can directly monitor and address issues on the ground in high-risk sourcing countries. Our teams regularly carry out announced, semi-announced and unannounced site visits and assessments of supplier sites to check they meet our ethical standards and requirements. They also focus on building co-operation and gaining increased transparency from suppliers so that we can work with them to improve conditions for workers at all sites that produce our products.
Although independent third-party audits are an important tool for identifying problems and initiating improvements, they can only provide a snapshot of a particular situation. Through our Aldi Social Assessments we are going ‘beyond compliance’ by introducing permanent improvements to working conditions at the sites we source from, which requires a collaborative approach between Aldi and our suppliers. We believe this provides a more accurate picture of the issues affecting a supplier site and counteracts the issues of audit fraud and lack of transparency that can be an issue with third party audits.
Where a human rights issue is identified, Aldi will fully investigate it to ensure we fully understand workers’ experiences. We will then work together with our suppliers to ensure a suitable remediation plan is put in place and will monitor whether it has been successfully resolved.
Training and capacity building
To effectively improve human rights in our supply chain, we must raise awareness of this issue across our business and supply chains. It is vital that Aldi employees and suppliers are trained to spot human rights issues and have the skills and confidence to deal with them as soon as they arise.
Training for employees
· All Aldi Buying employees are trained on how to ensure suppliers uphold the ethical standards that we set. They work closely with our CR departments to monitor suppliers’ performance and intervene if any issues are found.
· Our CR department run ethical trade training sessions for employees in our Buying department. This includes guidance on ethical trade, including relevant questions to ask and what to look for during visits to suppliers’ sites.
· All new employees with buying responsibility receive one-to-one training as part of their induction, to ensure they have a thorough understanding of ethical trade issues.
Training for suppliers
· We host training sessions for suppliers to train and educate them on ethical trade and provide comprehensive documented guidance on Aldi’s Ethical Trade Programme.
· As part of our Aldi Social Assessment programme, suppliers whose sites are scheduled to receive announced visits are fully briefed on the approach and objectives of the programme before the assessments take place.
· The Aldi Factory Advancement Project provides training for suppliers in Bangladesh on a range of subjects including health and safety in the workplace, fire safety, wage issues, working hours and discrimination.
Key progress since 2017
· Extended our Ethical Trade Programme to cover more product areas.
· Strengthened our existing supplier policies on the responsible use of labour providers, in line with industry best practice guidance from the Stronger Together initiative and the Association of Labour Providers.
· Introduced ethical requirements for our ‘Goods Not for Resale’ suppliers.
· Established new partnerships with NGOs and third parties, including the Food Network for Ethical Trade.
· Supported our suppliers to improve their capacity to identify and remediate critical issues themselves.
Since 2017, we have also deepened our understanding of the specific risks that workers face in these supply chains by participating in several initiatives:
· Opening a dedicated CR office in Bangladesh to forge closer relationships with suppliers and further strengthen our monitoring on the ground. Find out more about how we are improving human rights in our supply chain in Bangladesh.
· Establishing a working group for an ethical sourcing strategy for food, comprised of experts from our CR International teams and national country CR teams including Aldi UK, to increase collaboration and momentum on human rights risks in the supply chain.
· Joining the Food Network for Ethical Trade (FNET).
· Engaging with Stronger Together on their construction programme and in their South Africa programme.
· Continuing our participation in the British Retail Consortium Ethical Labour Working Group to help shape industry decisions and share best practice with other retailers.