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Step 7: Independent Review

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the difference between auditing and independent review, and understand the importance of independent review as a critical step in the social compliance process.
  • Learn how impact evaluation may benefit your program.

Key Terms

Independent Review—Independent review consists of independent monitoring (auditing) and independent verification.  Independence in the social compliance context is defined by a lack of a direct financial transaction between the company and external entity.

  • Independent Monitoring (Auditing)—Monitoring/auditing carried out by audit professionals accredited by institutions or mechanisms; their role is to ensure that auditing takes place while eliminating any direct financial transaction between the company and the auditor. Typically, a company pays a separate, independent institution for auditing services, and/or for membership in that body. The institution accredits auditors under its established standards and is responsible for scheduling and oversight of all audits.  While this is designed to increase the credibility of the audit, in some sectors or geographic locations, this arrangement may not be available.  In addition, even without a direct financial transaction, some stakeholders may still have concerns about the degree of an auditor’s independence from the audited entity. Varying degrees of independence exist, and independence ultimately needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis.
  • Independent Verification—Independent third-party review of the implementation and effectiveness of the other activities of the social compliance system, usually carried out by a Certification Body.

Certification Body (CB)—An organization accredited to certify or verify another entity’s compliance with a specified standard or set of standards.

Impact Evaluation—A method that establishes, with statistical rigor, a causal linkage and quantifiable impact of a specific intervention.

As discussed in Basics of a Social Compliance System, your social compliance team has set goals, objectives and targets for your system and periodically assesses performance against those targets.  In addition to this internal review, you will also need periodic, independent review, which includes independent monitoring and independent verification of the effectiveness of all social compliance program elements.  Note:  If, in Step 5, Monitor Compliance, your company already opted for independent monitoring/auditing, it is not necessary to repeat this step, but it is still advised to carry out independent verification.  Review and assessment by an independent external party helps you identify areas for improvement and provides stakeholders with desired information on the implementation and effectiveness of your system.

The links on the left-hand side of this page provide more information about assessing results.  It is recommended that you read them in the order presented; you can move from one section to the next without returning to this page.

Note:  Any references to companies or other non-governmental entities within this guide are only for informational purposes and should not be interpreted as an official endorsement of those entities, their products or services by the U.S. Department of Labor.