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Woolworths is committed to respecting human rights for our own team members and the workers in our supply chain in alignment with the principles and guidance contained in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Guiding Principles outline how organisations should implement the United Nations' 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework in order to better manage business and human rights issues. 

We have become members of SEDEX, a global non-profit organisation for sharing responsible sourcing data on supply chains.


As a signatory of the 2015 Australian Business Pledge against Forced Labour, we have acknowledged a responsibility to identify and address any confirmed instances of forced labour in our supply chain. Effective remedy requires multi -stakeholder engagement and we are working together with other Pledge signatories to examine best practice approaches to remedy.

Woolworths is committed to upholding human rights, not only with respect to its own employees but also in its supply chain.

We are a signatory of the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). UNGC signatories embrace, support, and enact, within their spheres of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption.

We are working with our suppliers to achieve better outcomes for the workers in our supply chain through our long-established Ethical Sourcing Policy, which incorporates the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions and the UN Global Compact’s core values of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption.

We have also been engaging with the broader stakeholder community (including investors and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility) around our approach to the management of supply chain human rights risks.  A summary of our current practices and work in progress can be found here.

Woolworths Ethical Sourcing Policy has outlines the following key criteria and more than 40 detailed sub-criteria:

  1. Anti-Bribery and Corruption 
  2. Labour Rights - Employment is freely chosen and there is no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour 
  3. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected 
  4. Working Conditions 
  5. Child Labour (ILO Convention 138) 
  6. Wages 
  7. Working Hours 
  8. Discrimination 
  9. Regular Employment 
  10. Harsh or Inhumane Treatment 
  11. Entitlement to Work and Immigration 
  12. Sub-Contracting and Home Working 
  13. Environment Compliance 

We expect all our suppliers to implement and maintain systems for compliance with our Ethical Sourcing Policy.


Ethical sourcing verification for new suppliers

Woolworths has a 3-step process for approval of new suppliers of own and exclusive brands for offshore suppliers:

Step 1. Capability assessment: 
New suppliers are required to complete the Supplier Capability Self-assessment for each of their production facilities. The Supplier Self-assessment questionnaire includes requirements for assessment of quality, ethical, financial and commercial capability. 

Step 2. Site inspection: 
Our global sourcing or supplier approval staff conduct a physical site inspection as a preliminary validation of the self-assessment in Step 1. If we don’t have our own staff on the ground, we proceed to a factory ethical audit. Following a review of the factory inspection a decision is made if we should proceed to Step 3.

Step 3. Factory Ethical Audit: 
A favourable factory inspection will lead to a Woolworths ethical sourcing audit  depending on the country risk assessment. The ethical audit status is classified based on the severity of the non-compliances.

Ethical Audit Status

Audit Findings



No non-compliances were identified

Supplier can trade with Woolworths.

Conditionally Approved

No critical non-compliances were identified

Supplier will need to submit a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to rectify breaches within approved timeframes before trading with Woolworths.

At Risk

1 or more critical non-compliances were identified

New Suppliers cannot start trading with Woolworths until all critical non-compliances have been resolved. Existing suppliers will have 7 days to resolve any Critical non-compliances.


Our third party ethical sourcing auditors

Our ethical sourcing audits are conducted by qualified and experienced third-party certification bodies (i.e. auditors). Woolworths pre-qualified ethical audit certification bodies are:

  • Asia Inspection
  • Ausmeat/Ausqual
  • BSI
  • Intertek
  • Qualspec
  • Merieux Nutriscience
  • SAI Global
  • SGS International

The ethical auditors’ pre-qualification requirements are outlined in Certification Body Requirements for  Woolworths Ethical Audit Program.


Products and countries subject to Woolworths’ ethical sourcing audits

We conduct the full scope of our ethical sourcing audits for production facilities making our own and exclusive brands in countries where human rights risks, bribery and corruption are widespread and the rule of law is not strong are subject to Woolworths ethical sourcing audit. Woolworths country risk matrix rates countries based on these risks.

Our Country Risk Matrix has been developed from credible third party risk data both from publicly available data from global agencies such as the UN, ILO and Transparency International as well as customised data from risk analytics service providers.

We have four risk levels in our Country Risk Matrix: Very High, High, Moderate and Low.
Facilities in countries rated Very High, High and Moderate are subject to the full scope of our ethical sourcing audit. Facilities in countries rated Low risk are exempt from our ethical sourcing audit based on their overall track record on human rights protections and good governance. We may conduct audits with specific focus if there are particular issues of concern in these Low risk countries.  

Find out more about our risk assessment.


Non-compliances ratings

Each question in our ethical sourcing audit checklist has a significance rating for non-compliance. We use a three-tier significance rating of Critical, High and Low.

Critical non-compliances include specific criteria related to child labour, imprisoned and bonded labour, health and safety, or bribery and corruption.


Our commitment to end forced labour

Woolworths upholds human rights and decent working conditions for its own employees and expect the same from our suppliers in our supply chain.
We acknowledge that human trafficking, modern slavery and other forms of forced labour are very real human rights abuses occurring in today's global supply chains. We recognise that such practices may exist beyond our first tier suppliers where we have limited visibility and control. 

We are working collaboratively with our suppliers and other retailers in Australia through the Australian Business Pledge against Forced Labour, to help end slavery and all other forms of forced labour, where identified in our supply chains, and to do this in a way that provides confidence to our customers and the Australian community.
With this Pledge, we commit to working collaboratively with our suppliers and with other stakeholders to eradicate forced labour from our supply chains. 

Globally, we are working in collaboration with the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) in implementing the CGF Resolution to fight forced labour issues throughout global supply chains.

The Consumer Goods Forum is a global industry network that is driven by its members to encourage the global adoption of practices and standards that serves the consumer goods industry worldwide. It brings together the CEOs and senior management of some 400 retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders across 70 countries, and it reflects the diversity of the industry in geography, size, product category and format. Its member companies have combined sales of EUR 2.5 trillion and directly employ nearly 10 million people, with a further 90 million related jobs estimated along the value chain. It is governed by its Board of Directors, which comprises 50 manufacturer and retailer CEOs.


Uzbek Cotton Policy

Woolworths in collaboration with Walk Free Foundation, The Salvation Army and the Uniting Church developed its policy on Uzbek cotton.

Our Ethical Sourcing Policy prohibits the use of child labour and forced labour by our suppliers. Reports of systemic use of child labour and forced labour in the harvest of cotton in Uzbekistan are concerning to us and we wish to avoid the use of Uzbek cotton.

In keeping with our Ethical Sourcing Policy, we ask our suppliers to not use Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of our own brands until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of child labour and forced labour in its cotton harvest and production.


Our global supply chain by country

Woolworths is an Australian company with a long standing commitment to a large number of domestic suppliers. 100 per cent of the fresh meat sold at Woolworths is produced in Australia and 96 per cent of fresh fruit and vegetables sold at Woolworths are grown on farms in Australia.

We also have a global supply chain and source products from many countries. You can view the number of first tier production sites by country in our global supply chain here.


The factories we buy from, listed by country

These lists are subject to change, due to sourcing decisions and all effort is made to keep this list updated.

Woolworths Food Group last updated 2 February 2018.

Woolworths Food Group factory list

BIG W last updated 29 March 2018.

BIG W factory list