In 2014, Under Armour’s Sustainability team adopted the Fair Labor Association’s (FLA) Sustainable Compliance Initiative (SCI) methodology. This assessment approach allows us to measure and track business partners’ employment practices, working conditions, and performance over time against the Under Armour Supplier Code and the Fair Labor Association’s Workplace Code and Compliance Benchmarks, the FLA’s Fire Safety Initiative, and the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, as well as all applicable laws and regulations in the country of manufacture.
The SCI methodology is based on the “worker life cycle,” evaluating everything from how workers are hired to if, how, and when their employment with the supplier ends. By using it, Under Armour is able to review how employers perform their core management and employment functions, including whether effective policies and procedures are in place, and whether training, implementation and process responsibilities and updates are assigned. Thanks to this methodology and our assessment tool we better understand trends, implementation challenges, and areas in which business partners may benefit from training or capacity-building opportunities vis-à-vis improving management systems. We also have insight into the best and most efficient ways to address compliance issues over time.
Worker Life Cycle
Hours of Work
Health & Safety
End of Employment
Hours of Work
Health & Safety
End of Employment
Prior to the assessment, Under Armour expects third-party assessment firms to conduct a desktop research on national and local labor markets, recent laws or regulations, known structural or systemic issues, any specific risks to be assessed, industrial relations situations in the factory and/or labor market, serious work accidents in the past, lawsuits, legal actions against the factory, and any other information that may be available online.
Policy & procedures review
During the assessment, the assessors must review the factory’s policies and procedures, company general information, employee handbook, internal rules and procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and records of recent visits by labor inspectors or brand assessments—including actions taken to remedy issues identified.
Task & risk mapping
Within the assessment team, and based on their skills and experience, each assessor will be assigned assessment areas based on the different Employment Functions (EF). At this stage, assessors will prioritize risks identified during the desktop review, and associated country risks. This process will determine the order in which to conduct the assessment.
This is the first step of the assessment at the factory, and is a meeting between the assessment team, management, and worker prepresentatives. During this meeting, the assessment team explains the nature and scope of the assessment and begins to build a courteous and professional relationship with factory management and worker representatives.
This is a visual method of understanding how each EF is implemented—what has been done, when, where, by whom? This is an active and dynamic process that involves interacting with all aspects of the facility and provides the framework for further probing.
Management & worker interviews
Management interviews focus on accurate evaluation practices, and aim to determine some root causes. Worker interviews focus on getting an in-depth view of worker perceptions and measuring understanding of workers of the factory’s management systems.
Observation & document review
Assessors are expected to conduct a physical inspection of the factory. At this time, assessors are paying close attention to the physical space and ensuring that the factory has proper health and safety systems, and practices throughout all areas and facilities. Assessors may also be conducting informal, short interviews during this time with workers. During this process, assessors will also review documents and records not available prior to the assessment, as well as observe interactions between people and departments.
Cross-checking & triangulation
During the assessment, the assessment team will meet at least twice a day to compare notes and cross-check documentation to help identify issues or patterns of risk. Once an issue or risk is identified, the assessors will triangulate documents, interviews, and observations to get in-depth understanding of labor practices and workplace environment.
The assessment firm meets with the management and worker representatives to present the Management Action Plan (MAP) and explain the findings raised in the MAP. Assessment firms will also share positive observations during this time. Lastly, the assessment firm will reiterate Under Armour’s policy on non-retaliation against workers who were interviewed or participated in the assessment process.
Root cause analysis & reporting
Mainly during the assessment, and particularly during the closing meeting, the assessors will work with management to identify root causes by using the “5 Whys” method. To do so, the assessors must clearly define the problem and its significance; delineate the known causal relationships that combine to cause the problem; establish causal relationships between the root cause(s) and the defined problem; present the evidence used to support the existence of identified causes; and explain how the solutions will prevent recurrence of the defined problem.