Audits help to maintain sustainability standards

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ASSA ABLOY has been conducting sustainability audits of high-risk suppliers in low-cost countries since 2006, ensuring they comply with the group’s Code of Conduct. As the number of suppliers in Asia increases, so does the need for audits.

A representative of one of the group’s third-party auditors explains some of the issues involved.

What are the challenges that ASSA ABLOY, together with other international production companies, faces in many low-cost countries?

It faces a context in which basic human rights and needs are not protected or met. There is a general trend of excessive overtime, low wages and poor health and safety conditions. As a consequence, it is not unusual for employees not to trust the management. Corruption and ethical misconduct are common and the lack of transparency in both public and private organizations is a context that must be managed with care.

How can these challenges be managed?

As ASSA ABLOY has its own factories, it can directly impact on these issues. It is important that they are addressed openly and that management demonstrates awareness. I think that ASSA ABLOY does this quite well and that the company has been successful in implementing its values and Code of Conduct.

How do you think ASSA ABLOY is faring in its efforts to manage the conditions in China?

We have visited three of ASSA ABLOY’s entities in China, and they are doing quite well. I think that they outperform many comparable companies. The open dialogue and honest intentions are very positive. Implementation is always a challenge but I have experienced that ASSA ABLOY has set up systems to spread the Code of Conduct from management throughout the organization, resulting in a high level of awareness.

Which are the main challenges that still remain for ASSA ABLOY?

Excessive working hours continue to be a challenge, but not just for ASSA ABLOY. I think that the employee turnover in ASSA ABLOY’s Chinese companies is lower than for many other companies, which is a positive sign. In order to secure that situation, ASSA ABLOY must continue to work actively with issues such as working conditions, working hours, wages and so on.