October’s upcoming release of revisions to the automotive industry’s most widely used international standard for quality management will include language on corporate ethics for the first time in its history. The standard — previously named ISO/TS 16949 — is replaced by IATF 16949 and has been revised by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) with an unprecedented level of industry feedback and engagement.
“This is the first time that ethics language has been included in an automotive quality standard,” says Tanya Bolden, director of corporate responsibility products and services for the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). “It’s significant because it gives us an opportunity to verify where the supply base stands on several core ethics policies.”
The new IATF 16949 standard states that certified organizations must implement basic corporate responsibility policies such as anti-bribery policy, an employee code of conduct, and an ethics escalation (whistle-blower) policy.
Nine North American and European OEMs and five national automotive supplier associations agreed to include corporate responsibility requirements in the new quality standard. “The language is basic, but it clearly requires automotive sites worldwide to provide documentation that they have established an employee behavioral expectation code, implemented a formal process to report code violations, and published an anti-bribery policy,” says Bolden. “There are also no incremental costs to suppliers or OEMs to capture this corporate responsibility data.”
By late 2018, 65,000-plus supplier sites certified to the quality standard —primarily Tier One and Tier Two direct-part manufacturers — must be physically audited and re-certified by an approved IATF third-party certification body. Non-compliance could result in suspension of a supplier’s quality certification and limit their access to new business opportunities.
“Including corporate responsibility into the revised quality standard gives us a data-based, industry-wide ethics conformance baseline,” says Bolden. “Conformance to IATF 16949 ensures a company has the building blocks for adherence to AIAG’s Global Guidance Principles, a corporate ethics benchmark established by OEMs.”
Industry professionals can use AIAG’s free knowledge assessment tool to identify gaps in their understanding of the Global Guidance Principles and follow up with e-learning as needed. The AIAG Supplier Sustainability Self-Assessment is also available for organizations to determine their alignment with the Global Guidance Principles.