ICS members act together to sustainably improve working conditions in factories and responsibly support suppliers in order to make them ‘actors’ of their own approach to progress in global supply chains.
ICS values are:
Mission, values and activities
ICS (Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability) is an international multi-sectoral initiative with a goal of providing its members with a mutual framework and tools in order to facilitate their responsible action within global supply chains.
Mission, values and activities
ICS makes it possible for its members to:
Enforce common social and environmental audit frameworks;
Deploy tools and services that meet this common reference framework in order to engage with actors participating in their supply chain;
Mutualize tools addressing common production sites in order to avoid redundancies when commissioning audits;
Promote, while respecting competition law, exchanges of information on social and environmental questions relative to supply chains and corrective actions plans implementation;
Promote exchanges with stakeholders;
Define common projects supporting production sites and suppliers;
Promote transparency and traceability.
With the following tools and frameworks, ICS and its members continuously work on achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals highlighted above, given that SDGs n°8 and 12 constitute the very core of its values.
ICS changed its name in 2018! Previously known as Initiative Clause Sociale, ICS is now called Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability !
ICS' original name, Initiative Clause Sociale, only referred to the social dimension at the core of ICS activities. Building on ICS' 20 year experience, its members decided to address the environmental compliance of their supplying factories as well and to extend ICS' scope.
New year, new name
Moreover, ICS developed a new website with the aim of becoming more transparent by rendering official documents public!
Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability (ICS) celebrated its 20th anniversary! Building on its 20 years of experience, ICS called upon its stakeholders to join efforts and together improve social and environmental working conditions across global supply chains. Continuing efforts will still be deployed to take corrective actions regarding working hours, decent wages (including social protection) and health and safety.
ICS celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018!
ICS celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2018!
In 2018, GoSport, Grain de Malice, Lacoste, Orsay, Rouge-Gorge and Tape à l'Oeil joined ICS!
ICS is composed of 43 multinational retailers and brands, mainly French, but not exclusively, in the sector of retail, textile, footwear, food, Do it Yourself (DIY), furniture, electronics and accessories.
Twenty years is an important milestone for organizations, which must demonstrate, year after year, how relevant they are to the world they are existing in, or take the risk to become obsolete. To pass the test of time, as the ICS did for the last two decades, is no small feat, even for an initiative whose goals and missions are as fundamental today as they were in 1998, or one may argue, even more so. It is not enough to address meaningful issues, something the ICS was meant to do from the very beginning. You must also take care to do so in a way that answers your members’ and stakeholders’ needs, as diverse as they can sometimes be, something that the ICS has proven it was able to do. I believe that striking that kind of balance has been key in the successful perpetuation of the ICS over the past 20 years. Galeries Lafayette joined the ICS in 2003. In 2018, with the launch of the Go for Good movement, our group has clearly stated its commitment towards a more responsible fashion. It goes without saying that an event of this scale, handling a subject as sensitive in the eye of the public, required solid foundations. Being an ICS member, and through this mean, addressing crucial compliance and sustainability issues, had been one of such foundations.
Chairman of the Groupe Galeries Lafayette Board
"Because of our common objective, we share a real team spirit." This is the spirit of the musketeers; the legendary 1920s team of which René Lacoste was a key member. Lacoste joined ICS in 2018 to reinforce its suppliers' social compliance approach but more than anything to do it within a group of companies that face the same challenges and pursue the same goals. ICS is without doubt the right environment to build a common ground between brands for more sustainable Supply Chains.
Global Corporate Social Responsibility Director
Accredited audit companies
ICS currently works with 9 audit companies around the world. Audit quality is monitored by ICS through statistical indicators and comparative analysis as well as by ICS members’ collaborative feedback and review.
ICS and its partners developed a working group, trying to prevent and solve potential future problems by working together. Integrity-related risks are to be tackled by using technology and by improving the auditing bodies’ internal structural organisation.
In 2018, the Working Group met twice: in July and December, aiming to find common positions. ICS strives to reinforce this collaboration, all the while closely monitoring audit companies' activities through Key Performance Indicators and errors tracking system as shown in the table on the left.
In April 2018, ICS successfully launched environmental audits!
The Environmental Code of Conduct covers the 8 chapters of the ICS Environmental audit questionnaire:
1 – Environmental Management Systems
2 – Energy Use, Transport and Greenhouse gases (GHG)
3 – Water Use
4 – Wastewater and Effluent
5 – Emission to Air
6 – Waste Management
7 – Pollution prevention, hazardous and potentially hazardous substances
8 – Emergency response management
The ICS environmental requirements are built around the three levels recommended by the GSCP (Global Social Compliance Programme):
Level 1 : Awareness and Compliance
Level 2 : Proactive Management and Performance Improvement
Level 3 : Leading Practices.
After a successful pilot phase in India in 2017, ICS launched the Online Corrective Action Plan (CAP) for all countries in 2018.
This tool has now been used for more than 1 200 audits around the world. This feature allows audited factories and related actors to upload documents on identified non-compliances after the audit (e.g. renewed permit, non-discrimination policy etc.) on the ICS database. ICS members can verify and validate the evidence for the CAP to progress.
The uploaded documents do not change the audits’ rating but they enable brands and factories to engage in collaborative and concrete exchanges. The CAP advancements are then mutualized between linked ICS members (members working with the same factory).
In 2018, ICS also launched a new tool called Factories’ Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
This reporting includes data on the ICS member's factories and their rating evolution:
The Map of sites identifies the active factories on a worldwide map that allows the member to follow the level of compliance by region. Each factory is displayed with a summary of the main points (name, city, country, last audit rating, number of employees, maximum of working hours);
ICS members can assess through KPIs the progress of the active factories and the evolution of their level of compliance, therefore making their remediation policy more efficient;
This new tool also permits ICS members to better compare the evolution of the rating distribution per country allowing them to act quicker and more efficiently.
ICS continued its investigation on specific issues in 2018. ICS worked closely with the ICS-accredited audit firms on multiple matters such as legal requirements on assembly points in India, on how compensation days are given to the workers in Bangladesh and on the security checks conducted by guards in Cambodia for example.
These investigations help ICS to further evolve its audit tools and guidelines and render them ever more precise and detailed.
ICS also acts to collectively address identified issues. One such example is the Joint Letter sent to the Bangladeshi government in support of the ACCORD (Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh).
Furthermore, ICS has joined a quick response group, funded by the C&A Foundation, which aims to better uphold the rights and security of workers by quickly coordinating actions of apparel industry organisations and their members in cases of extreme human rights violations.
ICS respectfully called upon all the parties involved to work together, to take all necessary steps to find solutions to the current challenges facing this partnership so the ACCORD may continue to contribute effectively to the growth and development of the sector in Bangladesh.
ICS set up Environmental WG to promote and follow the newly-launched ICS environmental audits. ICS’ approach of environmental compliance is to accompany factories in understanding their practices and impacts and to tackle these issues by a progressive methodology.
In 2018, ICS extended the Database WG in order to add Transparency and Traceability goals in partnership with ITC Sustainability Map. The aim of the latter is to cover the entire supply chain, from the producer to the factory to the instructing party.
ICS continued its investigation on working hours’ issues and national legislations to ensure better compliance from the factories. Currently, ICS ratings follow the ILO’s conventions with several thresholds and provided guidelines to non-compliant factories.
Audits in 2018
ICS updates its tools and develops new resources for its members and their supplying factories annually. In 2018, ICS developed the social small audit questionnaire (for factories with less than 50 workers) and published social best practices factsheets to help non-compliant factories. As part of the Environmental audit launch, ICS developed numerous detailed resources, on each chapter of the Environmental audit questionnaire (publicly available on the ICS website).
In 2018, ICS members decided to share consolidated statistics and information between themselves as part of the risk-assessment. Moreover, ICS will make use of its weekly news monitoring, providing information on the country, sector and/or specific factory and render it available to all participating members and the factories themselves.
Working groups dedicated to the food sector were organized in 2018 to better understand the food industry's special needs, given that audits should often take place during harvest season or on a boat for the fishing industry. This WG will continue to be explored in 2019.
Audits in 2018
*The number of audits notably rose with the increasing number of members.
This graph shows the average results of ICS audits by main country, separating the letter and the percentage of the rating. It constitutes a double rating scheme, i.e.90%B, 60%C etc. The percentage reports the degree of compliance of the factory and the letter reports the degree of criticality related to defined major non-compliances, where A is the highest and E the lowest rating possible.
Average rating percentage per country
When comparing the data shown on this graph with the one on the previous page, one might understand more clearly why certain countries might have a bigger percentage of audits rated "E". For example, Colombia has the highest percentage of audits rated "E", but also the highest percentage of initial audits. Therefore, when countries are less accustomed to audits, primary results may seem worse than they might soon be, given that the factories implement the corrective actions.
Textile & Clothing
In 2018, ICS partnered with International Trade Centre (ITC) to strengthen competitiveness and climate resilience in the Moroccan textile value chain. The project was launched in Casablanca, Morocco, on 10-12 April 2018, bringing together representatives from the Moroccan, French, German and Spanish textile sectors.
The first stage of the project, stretching from April to November 2018, included a practical four-step approach that helps companies analyse climate change risks and opportunities and generate climate adaptation strategies, communicate them, and identify the appropriate technologies, finance, and services needed to implement them.
ICS members identified suppliers operating in Morocco, participated in the sensitization workshop and took part in a selection of customized coaching sessions together with their respective suppliers.
During its second stage, the project focused on implementation and worked with SMEs in Morocco to develop climate-change adaptation strategies. The participants were exposed to a blended learning approach. It included online learning through the ‘Becoming a Climate Expert’ course, featuring contributions from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Sustainability Map, ITC’s online toolkit on voluntary sustainability standards (VSS).
In 2018, ICS and the One Planet network signed a partnership on the Consumer Information Programme for Sustainable Consumption and Production (CI-SCP). By joining the CI-SCP, ICS became part of the One Planet Network, the network of the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
As a partner, ICS has agreed to commit to actively engage in the Programme, by participating in specific activities of the CI-SCP (e.g. working groups, road-testing groups); and reporting relevant activities so the Coordination Desk could identify synergies and build cooperation among all CI-SCP actors.
Following this newly-signed partnership, ICS took part in a road testing of the Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information, along with 27 other partners such as brands, initiatives or NGOs. The Guidelines were published in 2017 by UNEP and the International Trade Center, encouraging information providers to communicate credible and reliable sustainability information to consumers.
The purpose of the Guidelines’ road testing was manifold, as it aimed to test the practicality of the Guidelines for developing or improving product sustainability information; to identify where most challenges lie for future work of the Consumer Information Program and to collect good practice case studies and lessons learned in different regions and sectors.
ILO and ICS have met on several occasions so far, and in 2018 ICS was able to participate in meetings on working hours, social protection and decent work. Generally, collaborations with the private sector can help promote these questions and achieve decent work for workers globally. Further collaboration was discussed between ICS and ILO on social protection extending into 2019 and beyond.