COVID-19: ICS Updates and Actions Taken

The global Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on global supply chains, from shortages of raw materials, orders drying up, factories closing up, worker unrest and ultimately worker lay-offs.

In response to these recent developments, ICS has continued with certain specific actions and has adapted its audit process.

Media monitoring and information gathering:

  1. ICS continues to monitor media articles published in relation to the topic via its weekly newsletter:
    • The impacts of the virus on the sourcing countries as well as workers in the supply chain are closely monitored, including incidents at factory level
    • Recommendations provided by several international institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations, were transmitted
  2. ICS has collected and continues to collect any information on the legislative changes in sourcing countries linked to the COVID-19.
    • Impacts on workers and the questionnaire are analyzed and shared with the ICS members and authorized audit companies.
  3. ICS has collected information from its authorized audit companies about what they had done in response to the virus:
    • ICS authorized audit companies regularly share information on audit operating areas and possible legislative impacts.
    • A summary of different actions was written and shared with ICS members.

Impact on audits and alternative solutions:

  1. ICS has adapted its audit procedure:
    • Any deviation from standard procedure needs to be declared to the ICS secretariat as well as the ICS member and validated before the audit takes place.
    • The lead-time to request follow-up audits has been extended for those that could not take place because of Covid-19. The extension is not systematic and will be decided on a case by case basis.
    • ICS has instructed its members and authorized audit companies to postpone any audits that do not respect key ICS principles, including confidentiality.
    • Interviews to be conducted will be individual and not collective to minimize the risk of transmission.
  2. ICS and its members investigated alternative solutions to audits where they could not be conducted. ICS members will liaise with the audit companies on a case by case basis:
    • A webinar was organized with ICS authorized audit companies and other service providers to discuss the alternative solutions on the market
    • ICS is currently collaborating with service providers to implement a «worker reporting»/»worker voice» solution in selected factories

Monitoring supplying factories and production sites:

  1. ICS has sent several notifications to the suppliers and factories identified on its database to raise awareness on the different steps one should take to protect themselves from the virus. The notifications were sent in several languages: Bengali, Chinese Mandarin, English, French, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, and Turkish.
  2. ICS has developed an internal tool allowing its members to communicate with the factories on measures taken by them to combat the virus.
    • The tool acts as a questionnaire and collects responses from factories on measures taken by them. The tool also allows factories to add documents and/or photographs where needed.
    • Based on the responses, ICS members may conduct their risk analyses through their supply chains. The risk analysis can help them choose where they will wish to implement alternative solutions to audits.