SMETA Audit-What is SMETA Audit?

TESTCOO/September 11, 2023
semta audit

SMETA is the world’s most widely used social audit. SMETA audit allows brands to assess their suppliers, showcase their dedication to upholding human rights and monitor health and safety for their workers.

What is SMETA?

The Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) Audit is a standardized social audit conducted on behalf of clients that are members of Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange).

Sedex enables businesses to work together to better manage their social and environmental performance and improve working conditions throughout the supply chain. The SMETA Audit is designed to help protect workers from unsafe conditions, overwork, discrimination, low pay and forced labor.

Sedex and SMETA

Sedex is the name of the organisation – SMETA is the name of an audit methodology.

The Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex) is a not-for-profit, membership organization that leads work with buyers and suppliers to deliver improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Sedex was founded in 2001 by a group of retailers to drive convergence in social audit standards and monitoring practices. Sedex aims to ease the auditing burden on suppliers through the sharing of audit reports and to drive improvements in supply chain standards.

SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit) is the audit methodology created by the Sedex membership to give a central agreed audit protocol, which can be confidently shared. Originally created by the Sedex Associate Auditor Group (AAG), now renamed the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (SSF) and involving multistakeholder consultation, it draws from practices defined by Sedex members and by the Global Social Compliance Programme (GSCP)

SMETA and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code

SMETA uses the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code and the local law as its monitoring standards. SMETA can be tailored to use with other codes based on conventions of the International Labour Organisation.

The SMETA Benefits for Your Business

SMETA applies to all sizes and types of employment sites, including manufacturing sites, agricultural sites and service providers. SMETA Audits have given thousands of businesses confidence they are working with sustainable suppliers.

Benefits include:

● Understand working conditions on a site 

● Most widely used audit in the world

● Supports meeting social compliance 

● Provides a Corrective Action Plan for the supplier to resolve any issues

● One audit can be shared with multiple buyers on the Sedex platform

● Assess and monitor supplier performance, worker health, and safety

The SMETA Measurement Criteria

semta audit
Check the Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) Measurement Criteria

This Measurement Criteria for conducting SMETA audits has been developed by the current members of the Sedex Stakeholder Forum (SSF). The Measurement Criteria covers the mandatory 2 pillars of Labour Standards and Health and Safety as well as the additional options of Environment and Business Ethics.

SMETA provides a standard audit and reporting protocol to consider the following:

SMETA 2-pillar audit

SMETA 2-Pillar audit has been developed for auditing against a Human Rights framework and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code, Local Law, plus the Additional Elements.

● Labour standards

● Health and safety

● Supplementary factors:

-Environmental assessment (rudimentary)

-Management systems

-Entitlement to work

-Subcontracting and homeworking

SMETA 4 Pillar Audits

A SMETA 4-pillar audit covers the Labor and Healthy & Safety standards of the 2-pillar audit, as well as Environmental Assessment and Business Ethics. This is the full SMETA audit and includes:

● Labor Standards

● Health and Safety

● Environmental Assessment (extended)

● Business Ethics

The SMETA Audit Process

Auditors may help with data collection from suppliers which must be completed prior to beginning the audit process. All parties involved should understand what the purpose and scope of the audit is; this includes what will be audited, by whom, and when it will take place.

The audit usually consists of inspecting facilities, reviewing documents such as contracts and invoices, plus interviewing stakeholders for compliance purposes. Each step needs to be done correctly in order to have accurate outcomes.

The assessment process consists of five steps:

Opening meeting - Once the auditor has arrived on-site, they will arrange to have an opening meeting with the management team to detail the format and procedure.

The auditor will clarify the purpose of the audit and the standard or code against which the audit will be conducted, explaining the ETI Base Code requirements and any relevant local laws or regulations.

The audit documents review - The auditor will also review all documentation previously requested to ensure compliance. The review of records will confirm both information on performance relative the standards and information obtained from the other elements of the audit. 

Site tour - After the opening meeting, your auditor will arrange for a tour of the site to observe the physical conditions and how they compare with the applicable standards, as well as gain an insight into any health and safety issues. 

Interviews – Site tours are an important aspect of a SMETA audit as they allow site practices to be observed, but just as important is information gained from manager and worker interviews.  Once managers have been interviewed, it’s important for workers obtaining male workers and female workers to be interviewed both individually and in groups to hear their experiences and personal views on working conditions at the site.  

-Worker Interviews – to corroborate workplace practices

Auditor seeks to confirm the management system, document review and management interviews by corroborating with the worker testimonies gathered at interview. Discrepancies should be noted, taking care to protect the anonymity of workers.

-Management Interviews – to corroborate workplace practices

Auditor seeks to confirm the management systems, documentation and management interviews by worker testimony.

Closing meeting 

The last step is the closing meeting, the auditor will go through: 

● Non-compliances and root causes 

● Potential corrective actions for the non-compliances 

● A proposed timeframe for correcting issues 

SMETA Audit Report

The SMETA Audit Report should be completed s soon as possible after the audit and should

always meet the Service Level Agreement SLA) of the auditor/audit requestor.

An Auditor should document and present all findings in the audit report, to enable the reader to understand all non-compliances, observations and good practices, as well as any improvements made. Where possible, auditors should also report on why the non-compliance is occurring by examining the system the site uses to control that aspect of the non-compliance.

Sedex Members

Sedex is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to improving ethical business practices in global supply chains. There are 74,000 members from across the world who work with Sedex to make their business and supply chain more sustainable.

Sedex Members

More Resources

SA 8000 - Address any potential ethical breaches in your complex supply chains. It is applicable across all brands regardless of industry, location and scale.

The Social and Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) - Learn how SLCP provides a systematic assessment and verification process for stakeholders throughout global value chains.

amfori BSCI Audits - Learn how BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) supplier audits help you ensure adherence to ethical standards throughout your supply chain.

Higg Facility Social & Labor Module (FSLM) – Learn how the Higg FSLM assesses the social and labor conditions present in a facility and the effectiveness of your social management programs.

The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) – Learn how GRS certification increases use of recycled materials in products and reduce the harmful social, environmental, and chemical impacts of production.


When might I need a SMETA audit?

If you are part of a retailer/brand’s supply chain, they may request that you have a SMETA audit conducted at your site. However, the SMETA audit can also be requested directly by the site without client or brand involvement. This allows sites to proactively improve standards within their business.

Do I have to be a Sedex member to share my SMETA audit with my customer?

Yes, only businesses who are Sedex Members will be permitted to have a SMETA audit (whether full or follow up) conducted by an Affiliate Audit Company. Businesses who want a SMETA audit will need to be registered and have an active account on the Sedex platform. In order for your audit to be uploaded to the Sedex platform, you must first be a member.

Who is eligible to be audited?

SMETA social audits can be performed at businesses of any type, sector, size and geography.

What is the scope of a SMETA Audit?

SMETA audits encompass major aspects of responsible business practices, including labor, human rights, worker health and safety, environmental compliance, and business ethics performance.

How are SMETA audit reports shared?

SMETA uses the Sedex database, a globally renowned collaborative online platform that allows members to share supply chain data, methodologies, standards and certifications with their customers. Upon completing a SMETA audit, suppliers can share one audit report with multiple customers via the Sedex online platform, reducing audit redundancy and duplication, as well as demonstrating responsible business practices.

Does the SMETA audit lead to certification?

SMETA is not a certification audit. The cadence of audit repetition for SMETA is generally established by the customer requesting the audit. The audit will result in a finalized report.


TESTCOO can conduct SMETA audits in China and the whole Southeast Asia countries. With experienced local social compliance auditors, TESTCOO help you ensure responsible business practices in your supply chain. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.

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