Factory Engagement Program

When a factory is new to the RBA Code of Conduct, they often struggle with the comprehensive nature of the Validated Assessment Program (VAP) audit, and they need a way to review their current performance against the Code and prioritize areas for improvement. For suppliers in this category, the RBA has created the Factory Engagement Program (FEP). Factories that join the FEP work with RBA staff and, in some cases, RBA members who source from the factory, to assist in creating a plan to improve RBA Code performance.

Factory Engagement Program (FEP)

The Factory Engagement Program (FEP) is offered as part of the Responsible Factory Initiative (RFI). The FEP is not an audit program and there is no risk of penalty if Code performance is poor. It focuses on providing guidance and support to those factories not yet ready to be audited. Ultimately, the Factory Engagement Program will help prepare the site for a VAP in the future.

Factory Engagement Program Guiding Principles

Commitment to RBA Code The factory program allows factories to demonstrate commitment to implementing the RBA Code of Conduct.
Continuous Improvement Factories in the program drive continuous improvement in implementing the RBA Code of Conduct, which results in positive impacts for workers, the environment and business.


This program allows factories to:

  1. Complete a self-assessment of their current performance against the RBA Code of Conduct.
  2. Work with RBA staff to understand the current gaps in performance and receive guidance on the corrective actions needed to close the gaps.
  3. Develop, and complete action plans that improve Code compliance with support from RBA staff.
  4. Receive 1-3 days' on-site validation depending on the factory size by RBA staff to support the Factory Improvement Plan.

Target Audience

The FEP is intended for individual factories that struggle with Code compliance or need guidance to prepare for an audit. It is not intended to be utilized at the corporate level. Corporate Commitment from a sponsoring RBA member is critical to achieve some of the program elements.

Any factory can join the FEP, regardless of their current performance against the RBA Code of Conduct or results of a VAP audit.

While the program is designed to be completed in 12 months, depending on the needs of the factory, they can stay in the program indefinitely as long as they make a good faith effort and demonstrate progress.

Call To Action

Demonstrate your commitment to RBA Code compliance regardless of your current performance.

Desired Outcome

RBA staff-guided capability-building, to help a factory prepare for a VAP audit.


Receive public recognition on the RFI website and use of the Responsible Factory Initiative logo. In addition, your factory can become eligible for other recognition available through RBA – such as VAP Recognition and Factory of Choice

Program Elements

Elements Objective

A self-assessment questionnaire is used to assess performance against the RBA Code of Conduct and is a critical step prior to a VAP audit. Via a secure IT environment, the member can complete the SAQ and submit supporting documents for review by RBA staff. 


RBA staff will conduct a desktop assessment or site assessment based on the factory’s operations, maturity, etc. and provide guidance on developing improvement plan.

Factory Improvement Plan

Factory Improvement Plans (FIP), which will be reviewed, approved, and supported by RBA Staff, and will focus on the most concerning gaps in Code alignment (e.g., child labor, forced labor, fire safety). Progress on the implementation of FIP will be reviewed by RBA staff twice annually.

Factory Improvement Plan


Once the SAQ is completed and the factory has uploaded all necessary documents, RBA staff will complete desktop assessment or site assessment to review, analyze and highlight the critical risk areas. RBA staff, the sponsoring RBA member, and the factory will agree on a plan and submit it for approval. Once approved, the plan will have an identification number and an expected completion date.

Reasons For Removal

There are three reasons a factory may be removed from the program: Expiration, Endangerment, (Voluntary) Exit. 

In all cases a grace period or probation period is allowed.

    1. FEP enrollment has expired
    2. Factory Lead Certification has expired
      1. Six-month grace period if new person is enrolled in FLCP before initial certification has expired
  1. ENDANGERMENT: Publicly noted event that put workers in immediate danger (example: Bangladesh fire)
    1. Probation period of six months is offered
    2. Full audit with VAP is required to re-enter the program
  1. EXIT: Factory has/will not meet the agreed upon Factory Improvement Plan
    1. Probation period of six months is offered

For any questions about the Factory Engagement Program, please contact RFI@responsiblebusiness.org

Become a Member

Join the Responsible Factory Initiative – There’s no better resource for factories to learn how to implement the RBA Code of Conduct or be recognized for being a top performer.

See membership details