We aim to enhance the lives and support the local communities of the people who work for and with us. We’re committed to sourcing responsibly and we work closely with our suppliers to make sure they respect human rights, promote decent working conditions and improve sustainability across our supply base.
All sites used by suppliers of Retail Products and M&S Controlled Raw Materials (‘A List’) including processing and packing sites must be registered on the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex)
is the largest collaborative platform for sharing ethical supply chain data. Each must be linked to M&S Food on the system and have completed in full the Sedex
Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) modules on labour standards, health and safety, environment, and business ethics.
All new sites supplying into M&S must have registered on Sedex
, completed the SAQ modules in full, and have had a valid audit prior to production starting.
Audit frequencies for existing sites are assigned by M&S and can range between every 2 and 4 years depending on the nature of the supplier and location.
Certain suppliers (e.g. suppliers of dairy products, wine, produce, and hardware) are risk assessed for audit requirements. For small suppliers (fewer than 30 workers) we may also chose to take an alternative approach to requiring a full audit which entails an interview with an independent specialist to identify key risks and improvement opportunities.
We require audits to be done on a semi-announced basis within an audit window of 3 weeks or longer. We do however reserve the right to conduct unannounced audits. Audits must be undertaken by one of our approved audit providers and suppliers must inform them that M&S is their customer to ensure our requirements are met.
We will also accept second party SMETA audits
undertaken by individuals who have completed the IRCA
registered 3 day auditing course and had 2 successful witnessed audits.
Regardless all audits must be uploaded onto the Sedex
platform and must be visible to M&S within 5-10 working days of the audit taking place.
Based on the results of the audit, suppliers are assigned a rating based on the number and severity of issues raised, as follows:
|Grading ||Minor ||Major ||Critical |
|Red ||10+ ||10+ ||1 or more |
|Bronze||10+ ||4-9 ||0 |
|Silver ||4-9 ||1-3 ||0 |
|Gold ||0-3 ||0 ||0 |
With the exception of the following fire safety issues (which we consider as critical rather than major) we use the SMETA Non-Compliance Guidance
to assess the severity of issues:
- No locked or blocked aisles/exits preventing use
- Firefighting equipment inaccessible, insufficient, unusable or wrong type or no training on its use
- No fire alarm
- No evacuation procedures, drills or training
- No, or adequate, functioning emergency lighting
- Systematic failures in health and safety systems
We also require all sites with more than 50 workers to have in place an elected worker committee or trade union.
Tracking of Ethical Non-compliance Issues
We actively track and follow up on our suppliers’ progress towards what they’ve agreed to address within their Corrective Action Plans as shown in Tables 1 and 2 below.
Table 1: Number of sites and workers on Sedex and location of audits (M&S Food Direct Suppliers and 'A List' Sites) - 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018
|Continent ||Sites||Audited sites ||Workers total ||Audited workers ||Number of audits ||Number of non-compliance issues ||Average number of non-compliance issues identified per audit |
|Europe ||928 ||240||216,519||84,580||251||1,095||4.36|
|North America ||19||0||4,980||0||0||0||0|
|South America ||27 ||5||7,283||3,895||5||24||4.8|
|Total ||1,085 ||276||318,466||114,575||289||1,254||4.34|
Table 1 footnotes:
- All direct M&S food suppliers and a subsection of our 'A List' raw material suppliers - a total of 1,085 sites - are required to undertake ethical audits at a set frequency, determined by risk.
- In 2017/18, 276 sites were audited resulting in a total of 1,254 non-compliance issues being identified. The reminder of supplier sites have either been audited recently or are in the process of scheduling an audit to take place during 2018/19.
- The figures in this table have been restated to include a number of adjustments from figures published in the Plan A Report 2018. The adjustments reflect more recent updates to the base data held in the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex).
Table 2: Status of non-compliance issues identified in ethical audits by issue area (M&S Food Direct Suppliers & 'A List' Sites) - 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018
|Issue area ||Total non-compliance issues ||Corrective actions completed (Non-verified) ||Corrective actions completed (Verified) ||Incomplete corrective actions1 ||Incomplete actions which are overdue ||Actions closed on time or not yet overdue |
|Health, Safety & Hygiene** (inc Accommodation)||619||188||251||180||148||32|
|Working Hours** ||145||39||13||93||79||14|
|Regular Employment ||103||25||25||53||37||16|
|Other Issue Areas (e.g. Management Systems, Environmental Issues) ||151||47||18||86||71||15|
|No Harsh / Inhumane Treatment (inc Discipline / Grievance)||11||4||3||4||4||0 |
|Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining** ||10||5||2||3||3||0|
|Employment is Freely Chosen** ||14||5||1||8||7||1|
|Entitlement to Work ||39||12||8||19||13||6|
|Children & Young Workers ||5||0||2||3||2||1|
Includes issues still in the window for completion (i.e. not overdue) as well as overdue issues
Table 2 footnotes:
- Of the 1,254 non-compliance issues raised during 2017/18, 55% have been completed, of which 27% have been formally verified by an independent third party.
- It should be noted that the issue areas represent a broad range of non-compliance issues. For example, none of the non-compliance issues identified in connection with 'Children & Young Workers' related to actual instances of child labour instead they related to the quality of policies or management systems in place.
The following chart (Figure 1) presents the top 5 ethical trade non-compliance issue areas identified through ethical audits. The majority of non-compliance issues identified related to 'Health, Safety & Hygiene', 'Wages', 'Working Hours' and 'Regular Employment' (e.g. contracts not being correctly in place). Find out more about our approach to tackling salient human rights issues
Non-compliance issues related to forced labour ('Employment is Freely Chosen'), 'Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining' and 'Discrimination' were less commonly identified. In part, this reflects how difficult it is to identify these more hidden or subtle issues through ethical audits. It is for this reason that we work with suppliers through our Foods Sustainability Scorecard
, our Global Community Programme
, as well as through collaborative working and advocacy initiatives to improve their performance in identifying and managing ethical trade issues. Find out more about our approach to capacity building.
Figure 1: Top 5 ethical non-compliance issue areas identified through audits in 2017/18
** M&S Salient Human Rights Issue – find out more about our approach to respecting human rights.
Figure 1 footnotes:
- The figures in this chart have been restated to include a number of adjustments from figures published in the Plan A Report 2018. The adjustments reflect more recent updates to the base data held in the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex).