In the late 1990s, the apparel industry was struggling with concerns over sweatshop conditions in factories. To tackle the issue, a multi-stakeholder committee involving brands, retailers, suppliers, NGOs, industry associations, academics, and government officials engaged in an extensive consultative exercise culminating in the formulation of 12 key topics around which to assess factories.
Today, these 12 Principles are the core pillars of WRAP’s social compliance program. They inform the organization’s determinations of specific audit standards and subsequent assessments of compliance
This standard-setting process is designed to be flexible and proactive. As part of its internal management system, WRAP conducts thorough reviews of its certification program every two years and makes updates as needed, ensuring it is constantly adapting to the evolving social compliance landscape. This biennial review includes a thorough examination of the 12 Principles, the underlying audit report template, and the standard operating procedures of the certification program. New and prospective industry developments and best practices are assessed during this process and organizational protocols are revised accordingly.
Additionally, WRAP actively participates in a range of educational events and platforms in order to regularly assess (and, where needed, update) its audit standards and procedures, taking into consideration evolving regulations, human rights issues, public health crises, technological advancements, and socioeconomic developments.
WRAP’s standard review process relies on insights from two key advisory bodies: the Monitors’ Council (a forum comprised of WRAP-accredited monitoring firms) and the International Advisory Group (a consultative body made up of global sourcing and supply chain specialists). These groups meet each year to discuss emerging developments in the social compliance space and other issues in the supply chain.
Between formal review cycles, WRAP’s global team of social compliance experts regularly compile data and insights to be considered during upcoming revision exercises. Inputs from factory workers are emphasized in particular, as employee comments and concerns are assessed in every single audit report. The team also encourages the exchange of knowledge, training, capacity building, and dialogue between monitors, facilities, industry associations, and brands/retailers.
Ultimately, WRAP is governed by a multi-stakeholder Board of Directors, which provides objective oversight of the program and its standards. To ensure its independence, WRAP’s bylaws require the Board be comprised predominantly of industry outsiders. Currently, it includes representatives from NGOs, corporations, and academia, as well as retired government officials. Feedback is always welcomed, regardless of the scheduled review cycle. To submit a comment or inquiry about WRAP’s audit standards, please contact its Senior Director of Compliance Assurance.