How to establish a framework for verification on sustainable practices
The subject of verification is essential in my work, as the aim is to prove that any control system can become ineffective if companies do not start by verifing the correspondence between their DNA and the way their activities are conceived.
As a consequence of the tragic events that took place in the last ten years consumers all over the world have started to express their desire to cross-check the declarations made by companies.
If we want to verify the actions of a company, we need to identify the environment for this verification.
Therefore, we need to define:
– What do we want to verify
– Who is in charge of performing the verification
– How is the verification taking place
– What is the point of view of our verification.
What to verify.
As already mentioned in my article “Fashion: The consequences of a non-sustainable business model on the value chain”, the value chain in the fashion field is long and complex.
We can take the field of fashion as an example to prove that when it comes to verifying the actions of a company, one needs to consider that the subject of the verification may affect each and all of the three macro-areas of the TBL: Planet, People, Profit.
Therefore, for each verification that may be put into action it is required to know which aspect has to be taken into consideration:
- the ecological footprint of the product or service (raw material, energy, production, waste-disposal, etc.);
- the impact on people and society (working conditions of the employees, consequences of the activity on the community, etc.);
- the financial aspect related to the management of profits (quality of the investments, business partnerships, strategical decisions, etc.).
Verifying all three aspects at the same time may lead to a complicated framework were the result of the verification becomes difficult to be interpreted.
At the beginning of a company’s transition towards sustainability, it makes sense to start by prioritizing the most impactful areas of the value chain, and to report other impacts evaluation at a further step in the transition project.
Who is in charge.
It is crucial to define who is the entity in charge of performing the verification on the company and/or the product, in order to avoid any deviating influence in the evaluation.
This also means that any declaration directly made by the company itself must be sustained with measurable and verifiable facts and data.
The procedure adopted for the verification is also relevant for a reliable result.
Are there third parties involved, other than the entity in charge of it?
If yes, are they reliable and independent?
Is there a cross-check procedure for the provided data?
If yes, how is it structured?
These are all necessary questions that need to be addressed when dealing with a verification process.
The point of view.
It is fundamental to know what the purpose of the verification is.
If the aim is to provide a customer with a certain degree of information, the procedure of verification has to take into consideration all information that can be of interest for the customer and produce a clear result with no need for specific technical knowledge.
If the public administration requires putting in place an instrument of verification, this may involve a higher degree of precision and a technical content of the results.
It becomes clear that for a verification to be trustworthy there are three conditions to be fulfilled:
– Independence of the entity that performs the verification;
– Unambiguous definition of the purpose and subjects of the verification;
– Transparency and defined structure of the process and procedures of verification.
Therefore, the participation of the public administration becomes necessary in order to produce a reliable verification of the actions of a company.
In the absence of an official procedure there are several private-based instruments that have been created to verify the conduct of companies and whose reliability varies with the context and the activity involved.
For more information on this topic you can contact me at the email address : email@example.com