Our Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability audit program covers all facilities that manufacture or convert raw materials into:
- Target owned brand products and packaging.
- Target exclusive products and packaging.
- Target-distributed products and/or nationally branded products and packaging for which Target is the importer of record.
Oversight & industry-converged approach
Target is evolving its oversight approach to go beyond compliance, including implementing an industry-converged approach to assessment, and introducing more direct worker reporting channels and other real-time insights to understand emerging business and human rights risk. Further feedback we received from suppliers is that, by accepting several audit programs, suppliers’ facilities are more proactive in identifying root causes of issues and making improvements that benefit workers. To support deeper visibility, we also increased our disclosure requirements, including requirements about facility disclosure and applicability. Target maintains the right to conduct unannounced audits of any disclosed locations.
Target believes in supporting vendors’ continuous improvement in responsible sourcing performance. As part of our continuous improvement program, Target communicates audit results to our vendors and factories and requires a detailed corrective and preventative action plan (CAPA). Our responsible sourcing team has ongoing discussions with suppliers as they address the CAPA requirements, focusing on steps taken, required timelines, factory accountability for ongoing monitoring, and long-term stability planning. An important part of this process is helping the vendor and factory identify the root causes of violations so they don’t recur. Additionally, Target supports continuous improvement through a variety of initiatives to build our vendors’ capacity to manage and improve their own responsible sourcing programs.
In 2021, our team delivered 17 training programs on this industry-converged approach to 3,155 internal team members and suppliers — more than 6,500 training hours in total.
In 2022, we rolled out our first human rights training to key business areas, including merchandising, owned brands, sourcing and corporate responsibility. The training covered an overview of business and human rights and Target’s approach, including our human rights statement and business operations and supply chain due diligence efforts.
All factories/locations manufacturing or converting raw materials or components into Target owned brand products and packaging, Target exclusive products, Target-distributed products and/or nationally branded products for which Target is the importer of record are required to disclose locations to Target and participate in Target’s Responsible Sourcing Audit Program.
The risk-based program assesses facility conditions, worker treatment and compensation, hiring processes, environmental practices and compliance with applicable laws and Target’s SOVE. All disclosed manufacturing locations must conduct an audit that is approved as part of Target’s industry-aligned audit protocol on a regular basis. Target maintains the right to conduct unannounced audits of any disclosed locations.
Audits, protocols and resources
The purpose of Target’s Responsible Sourcing Audit Program is to assess factory conditions, worker treatment and compensation, hiring processes, environmental practices and, more generally, compliance with applicable laws and Target’s SOVE.
All disclosed manufacturing locations are required to conduct an audit that is approved as part of Target’s industry aligned audit protocol. Factories must submit one of the following responsible sourcing audits as applicable to their industry on a regular basis: Social Labor Convergence Program (SLCP), Better Work, Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA), ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP), or Responsible Business Alliance (RBA). Apparel, accessories, footwear and nominated tier 2 facilities are required to participate in Better Work or SLCP. Target maintains the right to conduct unannounced audits of any disclosed locations.
In addition, all factories in scope of the Higg Facilities Environmental Module (FEM) must complete the self-assessment on an annual basis. All tier 1 and tier 2 factories producing Target owned-brand products, as well as national brand where Target is the importer of record, are in scope of the Higg FEM self-assessment. Excluded are factories regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Additional information on Target’s participation in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and The Higg Index can be found on our Supply Chain Transparency page.
If any issues are found during verification by a third party, we tailor our response to the circumstances. Some zero-tolerance and critical violations could deactivate the factory from our list while for other issues, we will work with the supplier to help them achieve compliance within an agreed-upon time frame
Audit rating, violations and consequences for non-compliance
Target’s responsible sourcing team reviews every audit and determines the final results based upon the findings presented. We categorize violations as Non-Critical, Critical and Zero Tolerance depending on their severity. We categorize audit results as Outstanding, Acceptable, Needs Improvement and Non-Compliant. An audit is ‘Outstanding’ if compliance is demonstrated with no or very few issues. An audit is ‘Acceptable’ if few Non-Critical violations are identified. ‘Needs Improvement’ findings result when a sufficient number of Non-Critical violations are identified.
A factory is non-compliant if:
- Zero Tolerance violations are discovered, including: underage labor, forced labor, corporal punishment, attempted bribery, sandblasting, unauthorized subcontracting, egregious wastewater treatment and/or absence of appropriate licensing/permitting;
- Critical issues are identified;
- An excessive number of violations are discovered; or
- A Target team member or Target representative is denied access to a factory.
We prioritize remediation and continuous improvement but, in some cases, noncompliant audits may result in the cancellation of purchase orders and the termination of business relationships.
Target will not allow a vendor to use a previously noncompliant factory until the deactivation period has expired and the factory has demonstrated compliance with Target’s SOVE and applicable laws. The formal reinstatement process involves a review of an audit protocol recognized by Target to validate that the issues were satisfactorily remediated.
Prioritizing health & safety
Providing a safe and healthy working environment for workers is a key expectation for our vendors. The Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability audit program focuses on health and safety violations to minimize safety risks.
Target collaborates with industry-led initiatives like Nirapon and Life and Building Safety (LABS) to enhance worker safety and create a culture of minimizing occupational hazards in our supply chain. As a founding member of LABS, a global collaborative initiative of apparel brands and retailers, Target is working to assess safety risks related to structure, electricity, fire safety and evacuation preparedness, and remediates them in line with global best practices in our apparel and footwear factories. Through Nirapon’s Safety Management program, we are committed to driving safety requirements in Bangladesh factories, along with worker training and helpline support.