A code of conduct and independent factory audits can help structure efforts to improve factory conditions and identify non-conformities. But creating lasting change requires systematic, independent verification that holds the industry accountable, along with ongoing brand owner engagement that incentivizes continuous improvement.

This text is part of our latest report, Impacts and Insights: Navigating the Sustainable IT Revolution – The critical role of independent verification. The report helps buyers worldwide accurately verify social and environmental aspects of their purchases.


With TCO Certified, factory audits must be carried out by SA8000 or RBA lead auditors at organizations accredited to ISO 17021. They are trained to identify social responsibility issues in factories – both small and large. We interviewed two factory auditors, Lisa Xie and Felix Yu from TÜV Rheinland, on their experiences from the factory floor.

What are the key elements of your methods to ensure compliance with socially responsible manufacturing criteria?

– Our social responsibility audits normally include on-site inspections, employee interviews, documents review, and selected representative samples. All to check if the factory meets the criteria on social responsibility.

What are the most important changes made in factories seeking to comply with TCO Certified?

– Factories seeking to comply with TCO Certified will usually improve issues related to personnel health and safety, unreasonable punishments, and forced labor. Management’s awareness of social responsibility requirements is also improved, and employees get a clearer understanding of their rights.

What assurance does an audit give purchasers of IT products certified according to TCO Certified?

– Social responsibility audits mean that the social responsibility performance of suppliers is evaluated. This reduces social responsibility risks, meaning that the rights and interests of workers are protected It also promotes continuous improvement of supplier social responsibility management, and the sustainable development of the industry. All while enhancing consumer confidence in the brand.