One of the most fundamental RBA programs is the Validated Assessment Program (VAP), which is the leading standard for onsite compliance verification and effective, shareable assessments conducted by independent, third-party firms. The RBA itself does not conduct audits but rather sets the standards and relies on firms that have been approved by the RBA to execute the VAP protocol. As the program has grown it has become more complex, with hundreds of third-party auditors from 10 independent firms in more than 20 countries.
VAP Recognition Program
The RBA recognizes that the primary value of an on-site compliance assessment is not in the identification of issues at a factory, but in the correction of those issues. We want to recognize those factories that demonstrate their commitment to corporate responsibility through verified closure of the issues identified in a VAP assessment.
We offer three levels of recognition:
- Platinum: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 200 and all Priority, Major and Minor findings closed
- Gold: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 180 and all Priority and Major findings closed
- Silver: for factories with a minimum VAP score of 160 and all Priority findings closed
More About the VAP
Assessments carried out on RBA member facilities and their suppliers' facilities are completed by independent, third-party firms specially trained in social and environmental auditing and the VAP protocol.
A typical VAP onsite assessment at a single manufacturing facility may last 2-5 days and includes a thorough document review, interviews with management and employees and a visual site survey. RBA-approved firms use local, native-speaking assessors where possible and they are specially trained to spot hard-to-find VAP protocol violations like instances of forced labor. They are also specialists in understanding where some violations are more common, such as excessive working hours in areas with high migrant worker populations.
Where VAP assessments uncover non-compliances to the protocol, those findings are rated by severity as “minor,” “major” or “priority.” All three categories of findings have specified periods of time during which the facility in question must remedy the findings and implement systems to prevent reoccurrences. Remedy and prevention measures are part of corrective action plans (CAPs).
A key initial impetus for the founding of the RBA, and one of its continued benefits to its members today, is the practice of sharing assessments. Many RBA members share common suppliers, and those suppliers also share suppliers. Whenever a single RBA member assesses its own or a supplier’s facility, the member can share the report with other customers of that facility that are also RBA members. Sharing assessments save RBA members and their suppliers millions of dollars each year, which not only creates business efficiency but also ensures that cost is less of a barrier for companies seeking to ensure that their facilities and those of their suppliers are living up to the RBA Code of Conduct and protecting workers and their communities.
In 2018, the RBA began a new project to increase sharing of assessments, known as the Assessment Cooperation Program.
RBA members can find additional information on the VAP, including interpretation guidance, corrective action management, definitions and other resources, in the Member Portal or by contacting the VAP team.