BBC Worldwide seeks to conduct its business to the highest
possible ethical standards and we work to ensure that our suppliers
operate according to the principles enshrined in our Ethical
Every day around the world there are people working in factories
to produce BBC branded toys, clothing, gifts, and stationery to be
sold in the UK and beyond. In addition, millions of magazines,
magazine cover-mounts, books and DVDs are sourced by BBC Worldwide
each year. With this activity comes responsibility to ensure all
our products are produced ethically.
In common with the majority of consumer products, many of our
products are manufactured in China, India, and other countries
where labour standards are not always as high as in Europe, US and
Australia. Our strategy is to require annual independent audits for
ALL factories producing BBC Worldwide product and located in
these 'high risk' territories.
Click on a section below to find out more information:
OUR ETHICAL POLICY
For us ethical trading means ensuring that the factories which
make our products have responsible labour and health and
safety practices. We will only work with licensees, suppliers,
sub-contractors and factories who take this responsibility as
seriously as we do.
In 1999, we put in place a comprehensive Code of Ethical Policy
which we require all our licensees and manufacturers to sign up to.
Our Ethical Policy is fully compliant with ILO (International
Labour organisation) standards and the ETI (Ethical Trading
Initiative) Base Code and has been translated into Mandarin for the
benefit of our Chinese factory management and workers.
This policy has been benchmarked by Impactt, a leading independent labour standards
organisation with whom we work closely, and sets out our principles
- Employment of appropriate workers
- Workplace safety
- Pay and hours
- Respect for individuals
- Environmental standards
- Ethical standards
- Trade unions
- Inspection requirements
See a copy of our Ethical Policy in English or in Chinese.
BBC Worldwide are members of SEDEX, the Supplier Ethical Data
Exchange, a labour standards sharing database, which helps
customers map supply chains and track and analyse ethical audit
data from suppliers.
OUR ETHICAL PROGRAMME
The BBC Worldwide ethical programme is designed to monitor
compliance with the ethical policy and to address any failures that
may be identified.
Checking for Compliance
- We require our suppliers' factories to be audited annually
against the BBC Worldwide Code of Ethical Policy. Audits are
conducted by approved independent third-party auditors who use the
SMETA audit methodology, designed to provide a true and
comprehensive assessment of working conditions and labour
- All audits are reviewed and graded against our factory
standards grading system.
- Only factories that have reached the relevant grade are
permitted to be used to produce BBC Worldwide products - this is
enforced through a fully integrated purchase order and approvals
system in the key purchasing areas of the company.
- In addition to the third party factory audits, we also conduct
our own factory visits in partnership with expert consultants, to
get a first-hand view of standards within these factories and to
check the effectiveness of the core compliance programme.
Critical Failure Points
- Not all factories will meet every part of our Ethical Policy right away, but we are willing
to continue to engage with suppliers who commit to becoming fully
compliant with our Ethical Policy within an agreed period, so long
as they have no 'Critical Failures'. The Critical Failure Points
are listed in full in our Ethical Policy, and include such areas as
bonded and under-age labour, serious health and safety breaches,
- One very important Critical Failure Point is that factories
must be totally transparent with our auditors, and must not provide
false information relating to, for example, wages and working
hours. We will not work with suppliers who refuse to be open about
- Factories that exhibit one or more Critical Failure Points are
not allowed to manufacture or distribute BBC Worldwide products
until the critical failure has been resolved. Lesser
non-compliances must be resolved over an agreed time period, and
are checked via a Corrective Action Plan.
In line with best practice as defined by international welfare
groups, we aim to work with suppliers and factories to improve
standards, rather than turn our back on problems, so long as they
in turn commit to engage fully and honestly with any remediation
The safety and welfare of workers in factories producing goods
for BBC Worldwide is of paramount importance to our business -
as are those of our consumers and their enjoyment of our
Working together with factories
One of our business areas is piloting in-depth 'capacity
building' projects with four Chinese factories, looking at working
processes and ways of increasing efficiencies whilst reducing long
working hours. Participating factories are very enthusiastic about
the recommendations being made, realising that they will increase
profit through more efficient working practices. Benefits for
workers include better pay for reasonable hours.
Raising awareness amongst our staff
We run regular Ethical Trading workshops covering BBC
Worldwide's strategy, programme and requirements. The workshops are
compulsory for anyone involved in buying, specifying, or approving
products or services, and so far around 300 BBC Worldwide staff
have attended one of the sessions held in London, Bath, Bristol,
Australia and New York.