Social Audit: From Theory To Practice

Eavani, Farzad; Nazari, Kamran; Emami, Mostafa
February 2012
Journal of Applied Sciences Research;Feb2012, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1174
Academic Journal
Accountability and transparency are the buzz words of development today. However, in any developing countries, where pro-people development is still largely planned and implemented by the state and its bureaucracy, their realisation is a major challenge. One important development in this context has been the use of social audits. A social audit is a process in which details of the resources, both financial and non-financial, used by public agencies for development initiatives are shared with the people, often through a public platform. Social audits allow people to enforce accountability and transparency, providing the ultimate users of services and projects with an opportunity to scrutinise development initiatives. It is a form of citizen advocacy based on the power of knowledge and is grounded in the right to information. Social audits to check working conditions in production facilities emerged in the mid-1990s after a number of high profile companies were widely scrutinized for substandard working conditions in their supply chains. At that time, a growing number of companies-for example Nike, Gap, Levi Strauss, and C&A-had adopted codes of conduct that in essence were pledges to prevent exploitation and abuse of workers producing their goods. Labour advocates soon challenged these companies to demonstrate conformity to the standards they had adopted. Calls for independent, civil society based forms of workplace assessments were made. The article was focused on social audit and its relevance to audit the social performance of the organization. Social auditing is a process that enables an organization to assess and demonstrate its social, economic, and environmental benefits and limitations. It is a way of measuring the extent to which an organization lives up to the shared values and objectives it has committed itself to. Social auditing provides an assessment of the impact of an organization's non-financial objectives through systematically and regularly monitoring its performance and the views of its stakeholders. Social auditing requires the involvement of stakeholders. This may include employees, clients, volunteers, funders, contractors, suppliers and local residents interested in the organization. Social audits are generated by the organization themselves and those directly involved. A person or panel of people external to the organisation undertakes verification of the social audit's accuracy and objectivity. The concept of integrated social audit does not merely extend horizontally in the sense of extending to peripheral events which impinge on the social welfare activity under evaluation. This article describes about what is social auditing, what does social auditing involve, social obligations and social welfare programmes, social obligations of public utilities and problems faced by social audit.


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