Bangladesh and the Problem of Ethical Sourcing
Still, auditing alone may not always be enough. In the aftermath of the September 2012 fire in Karachi, it was revealed that inspectors had in August 2012 awarded the factory SA8000 certification for meeting "international standards in nine areas, including health and safety, child labor and minimum wages," according to The New York Times article "Inspectors Certified Pakistani Factory as Safe Before Disaster."
And that's where the real change could come for the promotional industry in the wake of the tragedies overseas—not in massive supply chain overhauls or shifting manufacturing centers, but in an increased emphasis on safety protocols and social accountability.
"Audits are representative of a moment in time," explained Dee Fenton, executive director, compliance for QCA. "For that reason, the age of the audit should be less than a year. If you aren't auditing, but you know your supplier factory is being audited, ask to see the audit, then ask how the observations are and have been addressed."
"Job number-one is to make sure you are asking comprehensive questions. Job number-two is making sure once you have information, you are following up on it and addressing it," added Fenton. "The biggest issue is monitoring and failing to address issues, because it allows potential problems to fester unchecked and transform into more significant issues."