Responsible Sourcing

Sourcing Standards & Resources

Driving change through high standards and factory audits. Learn how we verify suppliers are adhering to these requirements.

Standards for Suppliers

The safety and wellbeing of workers across our supply chain is important to Walmart. Our Standards for Suppliers, along with our Standards for Suppliers Manual, make clear our fundamental expectations for suppliers and factories. All suppliers and their facilities – including subcontracting and packaging facilities – are expected to uphold these standards.
Recent important updates to our Standards for Suppliers Manual include:

  • Factory Visibility and Disclosure
    All facilities within the scope of Walmart’s Responsible Sourcing program must be disclosed to us and available for a Responsible Sourcing audit. Suppliers found to be producing merchandise in an unauthorized facility or subcontracting to an unauthorized facility may lose the ability to do business with Walmart.  Learn more about our disclosure requirements here
  • Company representatives
    Suppliers are required to designate employees who are responsible for facility compliance with applicable laws and standards. The designated employees must have sufficient visibility into facility operations to verify compliance at the facility level.
  • Life and fire safety requirements
    As part of our effort to work with suppliers to improve facility conditions related to risk of fire, we've made several modifications to our protocol for auditing and assessing facilities. Facilities found to have serious life and fire safety-related violations are expected to take corrective action.
  • Suppliers are required to display our Standards for Suppliers in all facilities where products are made for us. The Standards must be displayed in the language spoken by the majority of workers so they know our expectations of suppliers and factory management. Translations of both the Standards for Suppliers and the Standards for Suppliers Manual are provided on this website, with additional languages available to suppliers on Retail Link.

Worker helpline

We believe the worker voice plays a key role in driving safety and well-being across the supply chain. That’s why we require facilities within the scope of the Responsible Sourcing program to display a toll-free phone number, e-mail address and website where workers can anonymously report concerns in their local language.

Contact methods

• Online:  www.walmartethics.com
• Email: ethics@wal-mart.com
• Phone: +1 (800) WM-ETHIC

Audit Process

We use detailed social, safety and environmental compliance audits to evaluate whether a factory’s practices meet the requirements in our Standards for Suppliers are met:

  • Workers are properly paid for all labor hours
  • All labor is voluntary
  • Producers comply with all child labor laws and standards
  • Working hours are not excessive and are consistent with local laws or regulations
  • Factories meet health and safety standards

In 2015, we implemented a risk-based approach to auditing that allocates our auditing resources based on the risk level of the country in which a facility is located. Learn more about our risk-based approach to auditing here

The Responsible Sourcing audit process includes:

  • A detailed document review, including licenses, permits and records relating to labor, employment and pay practices
  • Visual inspection of the premises
  • Confidential worker interviews

Responsible Sourcing audits normally are unannounced and conducted at facilities by third-party audit firms. Facilities are re-audited at a frequency based on the severity of previous findings. Results are assigned a color rating based on the type and severity of issues found. We use these ratings to help make decisions regarding suppliers and factories. Facility audit results are sent to each supplier using that facility, and it is the suppliers’ responsibility to work with facilities to remediate audit findings.
As of September 2015, Walmart uses the following independent and internationally recognized firms to conduct audits in facilities around the world: Accordia, Bureau Veritas, Elevate, Intertek, UL, SGS, TUV.

Additional information about Responsible Sourcing is available on the following topics:

California Transparency in Supply Chains Act

Corporate Disclosure in Compliance with SB 657 California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (Human Trafficking and Anti-Slavery)

Walmart strives to conduct business in a manner that reflects our four basic beliefs – respect for the individual, service to customers, striving for excellence and acting with integrity. We hold the same expectations of our suppliers.

The Responsible Sourcing program has its origins in 1992, when Walmart first established Standards for Suppliers. While our Standards have evolved over the years, they continue to represent Walmart’s fundamental expectations of suppliers on social and environmental practices. The Standards currently cover thirteen topics, including a requirement that all labor be voluntary. We incorporate these Standards by reference in our supplier agreements.

Walmart recognizes that responsible sourcing requires more than monitoring facilities for compliance. Initially, auditing of suppliers’ facilities was the primary focus of our Responsible Sourcing program, but we have evolved our approach over the years. Today, Walmart utilizes a multi-front approach focused on training, capacity building, promoting remediation and collaboration to drive responsibility in our world class supply chain and to lead and inspire others to do the same.

Verification

We are continually evaluating risks in our supply chain, including potential risk of forced labor and human trafficking.  Our current formal approach to assessing risk in our supply chain utilizes Worldwide Governance Indicators from the World Bank, which incorporate factors like government effectiveness, rule of law, control of corruption and government stability that can affect the risk of non-compliance in facilities producing goods in that country.  Walmart also monitors risk through the facility auditing program and investigations.

Because forced labor and human trafficking are complex issues that can extend beyond the scope of our Responsible Sourcing audit program, dialogue and collaboration can be an effective way to identify risk. Walmart continues to participate in collaborative efforts with external stakeholders to advance the goal of identifying risk and building a more transparent supply chain. Additionally, we participate in industry groups that serve as a vehicle to share experiences and gain new information that can help improve operations and the supply chain.

Auditing

Suppliers are responsible for disclosing all facilities to Walmart that fall within Walmart’s disclosure scope. We use social, safety and environmental compliance audits to evaluate whether disclosed facilities’ practices meet the requirements set forth in our Standards for Suppliers.

Any facility disclosed to Walmart may be subject to a Responsible Sourcing audit at any time; however, our audit program allocates audit resources based on risk so we can drive the biggest impact to the countries that need it most in our broad and diverse supply chain. We place disclosed facilities into one of three risk categories based on the Worldwide Governance Indicators from the World Bank. The risk category of the country in which a facility is located determines the requirements of that facility under our Responsible Sourcing audit program.  Audit requirements for different risk categories are described in more detail here.

Responsible Sourcing Audits are assessed and given a color rating based on the severity of the findings from the audit. The ratings and violations are provided to all suppliers using the audited facility, and these suppliers are responsible for working with facilities to remediate the findings. The audit rating is one tool used to determine whether the facility can remain active and produce for Walmart and how soon the facility will be re-audited. 

Responsible Sourcing audits normally are unannounced and conducted at facilities by third-party audit firms. As of September 2015, Walmart uses the following independent and internationally recognized firms to conduct audits in facilities around the world: Accordia, Bureau Veritas, Elevate, Intertek, UL, SGS and TUV.  We also accept the audits of several leading industry programs as a substitute for audits otherwise conducted by third-party auditors on behalf of Responsible Sourcing.  Read more about those programs here

Certification

Walmart’s Standards for Suppliers require suppliers to be able to certify that they have implemented procedures to manage the materials, including all labor-related processes, incorporated into their products to ensure they comply with laws on slavery and human trafficking. Suppliers agree to comply with the obligations stated in the Standards for Suppliers when they sign a supplier agreement, and Walmart accordingly may request such a certification.

Internal Accountability

We require all Walmart associates to comply with our Global Statement of Ethics. Suppliers, contractors and service providers are expected to act ethically, and all suppliers providing product to Walmart for retail sale are required to comply with Walmart’s Standards for Suppliers and our Responsible Sourcing program expectations. We investigate issues and take the appropriate action to address those issues, up to and including termination of associates and termination of agreements for suppliers and contractors.  Read more about supplier accountability and consequences here, and facility consequences here.

Training

The manner in which we manage our purchase orders can have a significant impact on suppliers and facilities. Responsible Sourcing is training Walmart supply chain decision-makers (merchandisers, buyers and sourcing managers) on how their decisions can potentially impact facility working conditions and equipping them with the necessary knowledge to reinforce to suppliers the importance of positive facility labor practices. At Walmart, we believe associate education is fundamental to fully integrating labor compliance and social responsibility into all purchasing decisions and to building a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain.

Updated May 2016

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