We cannot work in isolation from the communities in which we source or manufacture products.
We have an obligation to attain high ethical standards and build successful partnerships with our suppliers to drive improvements in productivity and benefit people working in our supply chains. We regularly audit factories that manufacture our directly sources or imported products and work with them to improve ethical standards. We also aspire to only sell products that are generally considered to be socially acceptable.
All our direct source and direct import factories have now completed ethical audits against our own standard or other accredited ones (including ICTI, WRAP, BSCi, SMETA or SA8000), with 886 audits completed this year. All our factories revalidate their audits within agreed timescales.
If a factory fails an audit, we usually work with the supplier to resolve issues and improve conditions. We agree corrective actions and deadlines with them and monitor their progress on an ongoing basis.
In addition to formal audits, our buyers and other colleagues visit manufacturing sites regularly. We've produced a checklist for buyers, summarising key elements of our ethical policy, to help them check compliance and if necessary raise concerns. We intend to report on the extent and causes of all audit compliance failures next year.
We've amended our policy this year to prohibit the collection of feather and down from live birds.
The policy covers wider animal welfare issues, including animal cruelty during production, compliance with animal welfare standards and the level of pain or distress caused by products used to control pest infestations. We've also agreed to work with suppliers of products containing leather to raise awareness of the issues of sourcing leather from cattle.
All Argos own brand cosmetics comply with the Humane Cosmetics Standard as managed by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).
Argos is a member of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). The Council works with the jewellery industry to promote the ethical sourcing of gold and diamonds and we encourage our jewellery suppliers to join. As of 16 December 2011, Argos achieved certification meeing the ethichal, human rights, social and environmental standards as established by the RJC Member Certification System.
Socially acceptable products
We've developed guidelines that help us identify, understand and respond to sensitivities related to the sale of socially unacceptable products. Public opinion about what it and isn't acceptable can change rapidly, so we review these guidelines regularly.