It is the worldwide toy industry's initiative to promote fair labor standards and safe working conditions in the production of toys. This ethical manufacturing program moves beyond simply setting the standards with which factories must comply. The aim is to have one global code of business practices and to achieve one world standard for the ethical manufacturing of toys throughout the global supply chain. It also has established an evaluation arm that oversees monitoring for compliance with those standards and provides guidance and training where necessary to help factories to do so.
From a procedural point of view, in its own version of a continuous improvement program, the ICTI CARE Process has continually evaluated its performance, learned from it and then sought ways to better achieve its mission and goals. Improvements made to date include:
Refinements to the audit firm/ auditor qualification and certification process, including more frequent re-certification and broadening the number of audit firms, as well as requiring IRCA certification of auditor qualification courses.
Centralizing the audit firm assignment process within ICFAL to bring more transparency to the process.
Launching a major policy change, the Continuous Improvement Program (CIP), to help factories work toward compliance over a reasonable period of time, with reasonable goals, rather than adhere to a straight pass-or-fail system for compliance in the area of wages and working hours.
The ICP recognized from the beginning that to persuade factories to participate, it must simultaneously convince toy brands, licensors and retailers to support the ICP. This effort asked toy brands and retailers with own brands to enter a "Date Certain" program, whereby they would commit to a specific date after which they would source only from suppliers certified by, or registered in, the ICP. By the same token, retailers and licensors were asked to enter a "Convergence" program under which they would converge their ethical manufacturing code with the ICTI Code and/or would accept compliance with the ICP as being compliance with their own codes.
By June 2013 over 2,500 factories with more than a million workers were brought into the ICP. These factories have either achieved or are actively working toward compliance and, as such, have improved labor conditions for their workers. In a clear demonstration of worldwide buyer support for the ICP, more than900 toy brands, licensors and retailers from 31 countries have also made a commitment to the ICP, selecting a date after which they will source only from factories in the ICP.
A factory will receive ICTI CARE Process certification only when it has demonstrated that it is committed to compliance with the ICTI Code of Business Practices by establishing effective, verifiable, systems to satisfy the Code's provisions continuously. This evaluation will be performed after a rigorous review by an independent third party auditor team that has itself been accredited by the ICTI CARE Foundation in Hong Kong.
To forestall potential conflicts of interest among auditors, factories and brands, The ICTI CARE Process has installed several checks to minimize or eliminate such risks.
The ICP is overseen by the ICTI CARE Foundation, a New York based nonprofit organization whose multi-stakeholder Governance Board is charged with monitoring the ICTI CARE Process, approving guidelines and reviewing decisions, as needed.
The Governance Board, on the advice of its Technical Advisory Council, is charged with accrediting independent auditing firms to evaluate factory conditions. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, one of the conditions of accreditation is that an auditing firm must not maintain any consulting relationship with the same factory that it will audit on social compliance issues.
By promulgating the ICTI Code of Business Practices and supporting development of the ICTI CARE Process, the toy industry has reinforced its commitment to operate in a socially responsible manner. The oversight and operation of the program is carried out by the ICTI CARE Foundation, an independent non-profit foundation whose Governance Board includes representatives from Civil Society, NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, in addition to industry.
Beginning in 2011, the ICP began to post summaries of its financial reports and of the minutes of its Governance Board meetings on its website. It is also posting results of annual factory surveys that pinpoint issues to be resolved and improvements to be made in the ICP.
The ICP has sought from its beginning to develop a balanced board that includes strong labor and civil society representation in addition to industry (manufacturers and brands). Labor-focused Governance Board members include a person from the Fair Labor Association; and we are actively seeking a second person. From civil society, there are members from the International Youth Federation, Harvard University's JFK School of Government and a former member of parliament and government minister from Finland.