More and more companies in the automotive supplier industry are confronted with increasing demands on the part of OEMs. These include, above all, queries on various sustainability issues via the so-called SAQ.
What is it about?
The SAQ (Self-Assessment-Questionnaire) is a supplier questionnaire in the automotive (supplier) industry. It is part of an industry-wide long-term strategy and aims to successively improve the sustainability performance of suppliers. On the one hand, it is intended to improve supplier qualification, as deficits can be identified and subsequently addressed within the framework of joint action plans. On the other hand, it is also intended to reduce the processing effort for suppliers by requiring them to provide their answers on a single platform shared by the OEMs. The service provider NQC Ltd. is an independent entity that operates the platform through which the SAQ is answered and checks the documents provided. However, NQC does not decide whether a supplier qualifies for an OEM or not. This is done based on the individual evaluation of the respective OEM on the basis of the NQC evaluation results. It is generally accepted that participation is mandatory or relevant to the awarding of the contract.
Which of the OEMs query their suppliers through NQC?
The SAQ process was designed by the drive sustainability initiative and is continuously being further developed. A large number of the world’s largest OEMs belong to the SAQ process.
The SAQ is intended to provide a holistic picture of a supplier’s sustainability performance. In the course of the SAQ, both ecological issues, e.g. energy or waste, and social issues, e.g. working conditions or human rights, are addressed. It is important to note that the surveys are site-specific. This applies in particular to certifications and processes, e.g. in the area of work or the environment. Higher-level issues such as guidelines or policies should generally apply company-wide.
In the general part of the SAQ, responsibilities for social and ecological sustainability and compliance must be mentioned. In addition, information on external communication must be provided in the form of a sustainability report and internal reporting in the form of codes of conduct and trainings.
The social aspects cover in particular the topics of working conditions and human rights. Here it must be proven through the provision of conduct guidelines / policies, management systems and certifications that the company is aware of its responsibility.
The requirements regarding ecological aspects are analogous: Here, too, the company must use its policies, management systems, processes and certifications to prove that it is aware of and continuously minimizes its negative impact on the environment.
With regard to ethical aspects, it is necessary to provide proof of a valid guideline and a suitable management system.
In addition to the performance of the company or its locations, the cascading of sustainability issues into the chain is also queried. This means that the company must provide information on its supplier management. The aim of this is that standards should gradually be established along the entire supply chain.
You can find the complete SAQ 4.0 questionnaire here.
The NQC SAQ is thus part of a series of different standards and reportings which affect suppliers in the automotive industry and other industries. For further information on the standards in the automotive industry, we recommend our Automotive Whitepaper: https://dfge.de/download-automotive-whitepaper/
Where can the SAQ be located within the CSR-management of a company?
In principle, the SAQ questions the majority of the fundamental components of a company’s CSR management: in addition to the policies mentioned above, which represent a tool for communication in addition to the sustainability report, these include concrete processes and certification, whereby the “translation” of the guidelines into measures is achieved.
An elementary component of this is the operationalization of these topics in the form of sustainability KPIs in order to make performance measurable. An example of this is the determination of e.g. energy consumption or emissions. The latter are calculated, for example, using a so-called CO2-footprint.
In conclusion, it can be said that the SAQ deals primarily with fundamental issues that should be included in CSR management. Although the SAQ can pose a challenge at the beginning, especially for smaller companies, it is nevertheless a good starting point for taking the first steps in a company towards establishing the topic of sustainability.
Support through DFGE
DFGE has been advising companies on CSR and sustainability communication for 20 years. As an official partner of the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, the CDP and EcoVadis, DFGE has many years of expertise in the largest and most important sustainability standards. In addition, we have extensive expertise, particularly in energy and CO2-related topics. Should you have any questions or require help with CSR or specific tools, we look forward to hearing from you. Contact us anytime by e-mail or phone 08192-99733-20.