Social Accountability International

Infobox NPO
organization_name = Social Accountability International
organization_motto = Human Rights @ Work
organization_type = Non-profit
founded = 1997 by Alice Tepper Marlin in the US
location = Global
key_people = Alice Tepper Marlin, Eileen Kohl Kaufman
fields =
services =
num_members =
homepage =

Social Accountability International (SAI) is a global standard-setting non-profit human rights organization dedicated to improving workplaces and communities. SAI provides capacity-building services for the implementation of its SA8000 standard. As of March 31, 2008, 872,052 workers in 64 countries and 61 industrial sectors were employed at 1,693 factories, stores and farms certified to SA8000. SAI has programs in Europe, China, Vietnam, Central America, Turkey, and others.


SAI began in 1997 when Alice Tepper Marlin and the Council of Economic Priorities (CEP) established it. In 1998, SAI convened a multi-stakeholder Advisory Board to develop SA8000, a global standard for human rights at work. In 1998, first organizations were accredited to audit for SA8000 compliance; today SAI contracts with Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)for licencing and oversight of auditing organisations to certify copliance with SA8000. In 2001, SAI worked with Transparency International (TI) to issue "Business Principles for Countering Bribery" for public consultation. SAI provides training for auditors and a Professional Series of courses for brands and for suppliers. SAI is also the recipient of government grants for public-private partnerships for training and technical assistance. Among these are: a USAID grant to improve labor standards in apparel and textile factories throughout Central America as a part of the Continuous Improvement in the Central American Workplace (CIMCAW) initiative; a four-year US Department of Labor contract to improve labor standards in the agriculture sector in Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominical Republic [CULTIVAR}, several US Department of State grants, including an innovative program for joint worker/manager training and technical assistance in China; and several European Commission grants for training and technical assistance in the shoe and leather tanning sectors in several EU countries (joint with ETUC and industry associations)) and one in Turkey (joint with BSCI and the textile association, ITKIB).


The SA8000 voluntary standard was designed by a multi-stakeholder advisory board, including representation from companies, trade unions, NGOs, suppliers, government agencies, certification bodies, social investment firms, and human rights activists. SA8000 is based on United Nations and International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and declarations, national law, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) management systems. The standard is based on the following eight human rights components: Child labor, forced labor, health and safety, freedom of association, discrimination, discipline, working hours, and remuneration. Certified facilities must integrate these standards into their management systems. For more detail on the standard’s requirements, see the SA8000 page.

As of March 31, 2008, some 872,052 workers were employed at 1,693 facilities in 64 countries and 61 industrial sectors are certified to SA8000.

SAI Programs to Advance Social Accountability

SAI links companies, individuals and governments that want to support responsible practices through their purchasing, employment and investment activity. The goal is for human rights standards to become embedded in the supply chain or workplace governance structures, so that the promise of improved social performance for workers and businesses can be realized. The following aspects of SAI’s work help to achieve these goals.

* Training and Technical Assistance: Training of auditors, workers, managers and suppliers. SAI certifies individual auditors and helps companies in the implementation process by providing training and information.

* Accreditation: SAI licenses qualified auditors to certify workplace compliance with social accountability standards. SAI regularly audits the auditors. It does not audit factories or farms.

* Improvement of Auditing Effectiveness: Constant review of the auditing process; an open complaints and appeals system; regional roundtables to review auditing challenges and share best practices; and fostering greater involvement by NGOs and trade unions.

* Research and Development: Drafting and revising of social accountability standards, guidelines for the independent verification of compliance, examples of good practices and the costs and benefits of certification.

* Corporate Programs: Focus on helping companies extend the principles and management systems approach unique to SA8000 throughout their supply chains by assisting the process of integrating social compliance into supplier development and supply chain management.

* Outreach and Alliance Building: Working with trade unions, businesses, NGOs, governments and international agencies to improve SAI systems through pilot audits, regional workshops, conferences and corporate commitment programs. Harmonize SA8000 with other standards through mutual recognition and joint auditing.

Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS)

[ SAAS] has been established, independent from SAI, to oversee the organizations that conduct certification audits for compliance to SA8000 and the [ InterAction Private Voluntary Organization] (PVO) standards. SAAS audits these certifying auditors by reviewing their procedures and observing their work in the field at least twice a year. Organizations accredited by SAAS are listed on the SAAS website. Like other accreditation members of [ ISEAL] , SAAS works to be sure that social certifications are consistently and reliably performed around the world. Only organizations which are accredited and overseen by SAAS have the right to award certification to the SA8000 and PVO standards.

Funding and Partners

The work of SAI is supported by earned revenue and grants from USAID, the European Union, the U.S. Department of State, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Hitachi Foundation and gifts from individuals. Brand-name members of SAI Corporate Programs and/or boards include Gap Inc., Timberland, Tata Industries Ltd, Prem Durai Exports, Toys R Us, Eileen Fisher, Coop Italia, Tchibo GmbH, Chiquita International, TNT Express, Tchibo, Billabong, Carrefour, Dole Food Company, Cutter & Buck, and the Otto GmbH & Co KG. Trade union and NGO members of the SAI boards include CARE International, Union Network International, United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the National Child Labor Committee, Rainforest Alliance, Ethos Institute of Business & Social Responsibility, and Solidaridad.

10th Anniversary Conference

SAI's 10th Anniversary conference, Human Rights at Work: The Next Decade was held on November 5th, and highlighted the last decade of implementing human rights at work using the SA8000 system and laid out the vision for the next decade in this critical field. SAI’s Annual Conference provided an excellent opportunity to exchange, explore and share information with cutting edge companies and stakeholders with the most substantive CSR practices. Participants networked with a unique global mix of multi-stakeholder representatives from companies, NGOs, trade unions, and academic institutions.

"CSR leaders who spoke included:"
* Robin Cornelius, CEO, Switcher
* Lakshmi Bhatia, Global Compliance Manager, Gap Inc.
* Jeroen Douglas, Head of FairTrade Campaigns, Solidaridad
* Michael J. Hiscox, Professor of Government, Harvard University
* María Teresa Conde, Workers Representative, USLC
* Lorenz Berzau, Coordinator, Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)
* Alan Spaulding, Director International Department, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
* Achim Lohrie, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Tchibo GmbH
* Motoko Aizawa, Head of Policy and Standards Unit, International Finance Corporation
* Jan Furstenborg, Head of Commerce, Union Network International
* Kishor Chaukar, Tata Industries
* Rana Daniyal, Ministry of Commerce, Government of Pakistan
* Fabrizia Paloscia, Head of Fabrica Ethica, Tuscan Regional Government

ee also

* SA8000
* Alice Tepper Marlin (President and CEO)
* Corporate Social Responsibility

External links

* [ Social Accountability International (SAI)]
* [ Social Accountability Accreditation Services (SAAS) ]

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