Frequently Asked Questions about the Label STEP partnership and how to become a Certified Partner:
Who can become a Label STEP partner?
Label STEP’s unique approach combines social and environmental standards with an appreciation for the art and culture of handmade carpets.
What does the partnership consist of?
The basis of the relationship between Label STEP and its partners is a license agreement. A component of it is the Label STEP Standard, which defines the requirements for fair carpet trade and applies to the licensee’s whole assortment of handmade carpets. The agreement obligates the licensee to disclose their supplier list to Label STEP. Label STEP is charged with verifying the compliance to fair trade standards in the suppliers’ production facilities.
What are the impacts on my suppliers?
Businesses should freely select carpet suppliers based on their needs and requirements. Therefore, Label STEP does not dictate which suppliers they should engage. It is, however, the task of the licensee to inform their suppliers about the Label STEP partnership, to indicate the necessity of monitoring visits and to ensure that suppliers allow Label STEP auditors access to production facilities.
How does the system work?
Label STEP has coordination offices in all major carpet production countries. Local auditors visit the production facilities of Label STEP licensees and verify that the working conditions meet the requirements of the Label STEP Standard. Depending on the kind of production – whether home work, small workshops, manufactories or factories – up to 90 criteria are monitored. Minimum requirements, which must be met at all times, are differentiated from criteria for which there is a timeframe for implementation. The results of the monitoring visits are documented in a verification report and are shared with the licensee. Should improvement measures be necessary, the licensees have the responsibility to make sure their suppliers implement them. Label STEP and its inspectors advise and support the suppliers with this, and monitor whether the measures are being implemented. In this way, the situation of carpet industry weavers and workers is being improved step by step in cooperative partnership.
How is the system funded?
As a non-profit oriented organization, Label STEP works without commercial interests. The core activities, especially the verification of working conditions, are financed through the license fees of Label STEP partners.
Which advantages does the partnership offer?
The partnership with Label STEP is a comprehensive and credible commitment to fair carpet trade, which also meets constantly growing customer demands. Label STEP provides its partners and their brands with greater visibility, increased name recognition and a stronger positive image among customers, in the greater public and in the media. Furthermore, Label STEP strengthens the relationship between trade and production and, through good working conditions and satisfied workers, yields higher product quality.