Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)
Established in 2002 by the European industry body the Foreign Trade Association, the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) aims to establish a common, cross-industry platform for monitoring social compliance in global supply chains.
BSCI has a large membership base, especially among European retailers. Unlike many industry-driven initiatives, BSCI evaluates the progress of its member companies through audits.
As an initiative of the FTA, BSCI is ultimately run by the FTA's Board of Directors.
This board is made up of business and consultancy representatives. Six Working Groups advise on specific policy areas. With regard to funding, BSCI is highly dependent on participating company members.
Members / beneficiaries:
BSCI works with more than 1,500 participating company members. The vast majority of these companies are European, with Germany having the largest number of members.
BSCI coordinates thousands of audits every year, reaching millions of workers. Many audits take place in East and South Asia.
The BSCI Code of Conduct is based on core International Labour Organization and United Nations Global Compact standards.
BSCI requests its members to conduct a minimum number of audits of production sites using SA8000 auditors accredited by Social Accountability Accreditation Services.
In addition to audits, BSCI focuses on remediation / corrective action through training and capacity building for both suppliers and participating brands. If a factory is non-compliant it can have up to two re-audits, each taken up to 12 months apart.
BSCI's close ties with the FTA have been criticised by the Clean Clothes Campaign because of the trade association's history of lobbying against binding CSR commitments.
The Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs has criticized BSCI for having a ‘top-down elite structure’ with very little non-corporate influence.
Several German groups have also voiced criticism of BSCI, among them the think-tank Suedwind-Institut (for being a voluntary effort that does not compel members to tackle degrading work conditions) and The Federation of German Consumer Organizations (for letting companies superficially partake in social responsibility while ignoring human rights violations).
BSCI does not carry a consumer label, and neither does it certify factories or participating members. As a consequence, there is little awareness of this initiative beyond industry insiders.
The FTA Annual Report incorporates a section on BSCI that provides headline data on number of audits, audit countries, number of training participants, et cetera.
However there is little detail, for example on individual factory and company member performance.