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Second Blog Judith Flores Professional Development

Date:15 June 2017
SA8000, Madrid Course - participants
SA8000, Madrid Course - participants

Second stop: standards in practice

The second part of this trip took me to Madrid, where an International Course about SA8000 standard was held. 17 people from Spain, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru participated in the course for 5 days from May 15th - 19th.

The main objective of the course was to train participants in the knowledge of the standards and it application in practice. The course was very practical, involving in-depth case studies, avirtual factory tour and interactive group exercises. The course concluded with a comprenhensive exam. 

The course made me realize - thanks to the trainer (Yolanda Brenes) and the other participants - the importance of this standard and its nature. Firstly, I learnt that the standard was created by Social Accountability International (SAI), a group made up of businesses, NGOs and the International Labour Organization (ILO), all of whom are interested in improving social performance in different industries' practices. 

Secondly, it was invaluable to discover how widespread the standard is internationally. In that vein, it is important to recognise that SA8000 is bridging industry gaps by creating a common language within the market to measure social performance. The latter is an important governance function, stemming from the voluntary nature if the standard and its accomplisment by different industries and sectors. For example, countries such as Italy have adopted the SA8000 as part as their government's national systems for social performance compliance. 

Thirdly, I found very interesting both the management system approach that the standard has, and the topics it covers: clid labout, forced labour, health & safety, freedom of association & right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and remuneration. These topics are also closely linked with the second IFC standard and the World Bank Social and Environmental Framework.

Across the five training days, it was exciting to be involved firts-hand in such a substantive discussion. The theoretical debate was an important part of the course, but I particularly enjoyed our arguments about the practical issues, and the diverse experiences the participants have in different context and circumstances with auditing social performance processes. 

Overall, I was extremely satisfied with the course. It was interesting, engaging and challenging. In addition, I have now received a certificate to conduct SA8000 audits, which I am looking forward to using soon, when I apply what I learnt in the warmth of Spain.