The members of the French Federation of Commerce and Distribution (FCD) launched the Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability (ICS) in the fall of 1998, inspired by the SA 8000 standard.

The Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability (ICS) has been focused towards direct suppliers of textile, retail, footwear, electronics and furniture in source countries. From the beginning, ICS involved an audit questionnaire with a rating system and systematic use of external independent audit companies. Meanwhile, ICS has opened up to other retailers and has grown in terms of number of audits performed to one of the world's largest social trade initiatives.

The objective of ICS is to support the factories supplying its members to sustainably improve conditions for people at work. The ICS Codes of Conduct define the core requirements of its members, while their individual Codes of Conduct, which they are free to maintain, can stipulate additional or enhanced clauses. The principal conclusions of all audits initiated by ICS members are registered on the ICS database and exchanged among the ICS members in order to avoid unnecessary repetitive audits.

ICS actions are based on a common methodology applied by all ICS members and securing a complete control of the audit process by brands.

  • ICS audits are mandated and managed by member companies. Audit launch is a member prerogative, which ensures a total control of the use of ICS tools.
  • Audits are only performed by third party ICS-accredited audit companies.
  • ICS audits are neither certificates nor labels.
  • ICS members share common monitoring rules when critical non-conformities are identified in the factories.
  • The vast majority of ICS audits are semi announced or unannounced.
  • The ICS members promote the ICS scheme and follow the established rules. Basic information is shared in order to jointly monitor the audit conclusions and to initiate the continual improvement of working conditions in the source countries.

Intertek has qualified auditors for the ICS program worldwide and is working with most of the French retailers on this program.

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