Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) launches operations in partnership with the International Trade Centre (en)
(Amsterdam/Geneva) The Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) today announced that its standard-agnostic Converged Assessment Framework is now ready for use. More than 200 signatories across the apparel and footwear supply chains will embark on rolling out the framework. Signatories to the framework are mandated to redirect cost savings generated through this initiative to improving social and labor conditions.
SLCP is made up of the world’s leading manufacturers, brands, retailers, industry groups, international and governmental organizations, service providers and civil society groups. The program aims to eliminate audit fatigue by replacing current proprietary assessment tools with one single Converged Assessment Framework. The rolling out of the framework comes after three years of development, including three prototypes, two pilots, a public consultation and a successful ‘Light Operation’.
A key feature of SLCP is its decentralized data hosting and sharing system. SLCP has worked closely with the International Trade Centre (ITC) to develop a distribution gateway in which completed SLCP Verified Assessments are securely stored, and from which they can be shared with SLCP Accredited Hosts who support the distribution of the Verified Assessments to SLCP end-users. This system allows factories to retain ownership of their social and labor data, safeguards the integrity of the verified data and allows a single dataset to be widely shared.
Engaging with SLCP aligns with ITC’s strategic goals of mainstreaming sustainable and inclusive trade and supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to internationalize. It is also in line with ITC’s efforts to identify and reduce trade-related costs and barriers, while moving towards greater harmonization in voluntary labor practices and standards. ITC’s engagement with the SLCP has been made possible thanks to support by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) as part of a project to support increased transparency and traceability in textile and garment value chains.
Joseph Wozniak, Head, Trade for Sustainable Development at ITC said: ‘ITC’s collaboration with SLCP, a multi-stakeholder industry game-changer, will bring harmonization and convergence to social compliance at a scale not seen before. SLCP shares ITC’s priorities of reducing the cost and frequency of audits whilst enabling the facilities themselves be in the driver’s seat when it comes to data ownership and sharing.’
SLCP will initially work with three active Accredited Hosts: Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC), the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Sedex. Additional Accredited Hosts will be added at a later stage. Regardless of which platform a facility uses to undertake an SLCP Verified Assessment, they can then opt to share their assessment report, via the ITC Gateway, with any of the other Accredited Hosts. While the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework provides a dataset with no value judgement, the Accredited Hosts add a layer of scoring and analysis in order to meet the specific needs of the end-user. As a result, the same dataset can be used by a wide range of stakeholders, and be interpreted according to their interests and criteria. This eliminates the need for repetitive audits to be carried out on the same production facility.
Findings from research conducted by SLCP in 2018 show that adoption of the Converged Assessment Framework could unlock resources worth over $1 million spent on duplicative audits in 2019 alone, rising to $200 million by 2023, for re-deployment to improve working conditions at garment manufacturing facilities worldwide.
Darren Chastain, SLCP Lead and Senior Manager, Systems and Data Insights, Gap Inc., Global Sustainability and Foundation said: ‘As a long-standing signatory of the SLCP, Gap Inc. is pleased to see the start of implementation at scale. Our goal is to fully transition to the SLCP assessment and verification process. We hope and expect other brands will start leveraging the SLCP, so the industry as a whole garner the benefits of convergence and collaboration, such as reducing audit fatigue, which benefits the entire supply chain.’
Nikhil Hirdaramani, Director at Hirdaramani Industries said: ‘Having taken part in SLCP Light Operation, we are confident that the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework has the potential to not only solve the current issue of audit fatigue, but also to bring about a mindset shift in terms of social and labor compliance. Our facilities are an active participant in the assessment of their social and labor data, and we see that this has created opportunity for dialogue and collaboration, both within our supply chain but also more broadly across the industry.’
Tamar Hoek, Senior Policy Advisor Sustainable Fashion at Solidaridad. said: ‘As a member of the Council, representing civil society, my priority is to take SLCP to the next level. The 2018 Light Operations have shown that the SLCP concept really works. With the assessment framework in place it is important that we will now focus on implementation and scaling. So that we will actually reduce the audit fatigue in practice and can focus on shared remediation and real improvement of working conditions.’
SLCP will be rolled out in phases, starting with China, India and Sri Lanka, with future launches foreseen in Turkey and Mexico later this year and in Bangladesh, Morocco, and Vietnam in the near future.
More information about SLCP is available on the SLCP website: slconvergence.org and the SLCP Gateway: gateway.slconvergence.org/home
To see a list of all SLCP Signatories: https://slconvergence.org/signatories/
About ITC - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
For more information, visit www.intracen.org. Follow ITC on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram
International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org