SMETA 6.0: Sedex updates their Ethical Audit Format

SMETA 6.0: Sedex updates their Ethical Audit Format

With an estimated 230,000 audited sites, SMETA may well be the most widely used ethical audit format in the world. In order to reflect the ongoing evolution of ethical auditing techniques, Sedex has updated the format and aims to publish SMETA 6.0 in early April 2017. It will then be immediately available for use. After May 31st, 2017, SMETA 5.0 will no longer be available. We recommend to transition to the new version as soon as possible, in order to ensure that the audit results will be fully recognized by all users in the future.

What is SMETA 6.0?

Like its predecessor, SMETA 6.0 is an audit format that describes good practice in ethical auditing. As one of the most commonly used ethical audit methodologies in the world, SMETA plays an important role in the effort to ensure responsible sourcing and transparency in supply chains. SMETA audits focus on labor standards, health & safety in the workplace, and optionally also on environmental aspects and ethical business practices.

Because the SMETA methodology is recognized by an ever increasing number of companies and the audit results can be shared in the Sedex Advance Database, the unified methodology reduces audit duplication and lightens the burden for suppliers.

What’s new in SMETA 6.0?

Although SMETA 6.0 provides a number of improvements, it preserves the structure and underlying principles of its predecessors. There are few new requirements and suppliers that are already in conformity with SMETA 5.0 should not have significant problems with the update. This is hardly a surprise, given the fact that SMETA is based upon the ETI Base Code, which has not seen major changes in the last couple of years.

Still, the new version introduces a number of improvements and changes:

  • Sedex has created a Supplement for Private Employment agencies, to assess the working conditions of workers who are supplied by private employment agencies to work temporarily at user enterprise sites.
  • Section 0.A on Human Rights: A new section has been dedicated to the management of human rights. The section focuses on assessing the extent to which businesses and their respective sites understand and manage their human rights impacts. Information will be gathered as observations rather than non-compliances, as specific non-compliances are captured in the other relevant sections of the audit report. The section does not only concern the human rights of workers at the site, but also those of local communities and other stakeholders. SMETA 6.0 is not a full Human Rights Assessment, but instead a check on the site’s implementation of processes to meet their human rights responsibilities.
  • Each section now contains measurement criteria for good examples, which gives greater visibility to good practices that go beyond the requirements of the code or the law.
  • Section 8 – Regular Employment contains a new set of measurement criteria related to recruitment practices. The purpose of these new criteria is to provide greater transparency on the situation of agency workers and contracted workers.
  • The Pillar ‘Business Ethics’ has been overhauled. Whereas in version 5.0 all potential for improvement in this area was reported as observations rather than non-compliances, from version 6.0 onwards it is possible to note non-compliances for business ethics. The section focuses on compliance with the applicable laws and regulations as well as the prevention of fraud, bribery and corruption.

Where can I find the relevant documents?

SMETA guidance consists of 2 parts, with one part describing the audit methodology (called “Best Practice Guidance” – BPG) and the second part details Measurement Criteria. Both documents will be available on the Sedex website for free and without registration as soon as they have been published. Also available for download are a template for the SMETA audit report and a template for the corrective action plan.

Does DQS provide ethical audits according to SMETA 6.0?

Yes, we do. DQS is a member of the Sedex Associate Auditor Group. All of our ethical auditors have received extensive training on the SMETA methodology. We have auditors all over the globe and use local auditors whenever possible. Visit the website of or contact our local offices to learn more!

Article by Dr. Thijs Willaert, CSR & Responsible Sourcing, DQS CFS GmbH.

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