Higg Verification Introduction

Higg Verification Introduction

Policy Title: Higg Verification Introduction Policy Number: VPM – 001

Issue Date: December 12, 2018

Authorization: SAC Vice President – Higg Index

Distribution:  Internal – All

External – All potential and current

Eligible Verifiers

1. SAC Verification Program Objective

The objective of the SAC Verification Program is to ensure Higg Index FEM data provided and shared through the Higg.org platform is credible, trusted, and therefore able to be communicated publicly. The Higg Index self-assessment and verification are not pass/fail audits. They are, instead, an assessment of where facilities are on their journey to improve their environmental footprint. As such, a completely different mindset and approach is used by SAC Eligible Verifiers when assessing a factory’s self-assessment score compared with traditional auditing. This approach is discussed in more detail throughout this document.

1. Program Goals:

1.1.  Provide facilities with an external assessment of their performance

1.2.  Help facilities more accurately benchmark their performance against other facilities

1.3.  Support the implementation of a continuous improvement process

1.4.  Increase supply chain transparency by supporting the sharing of trusted data between supply chain partners

1.5.  Provide facilities with credible performance data they can share with their business partners


2. HIGG Verification Introduction

The purpose of the Higg Index Verification Program Operations Manual is to communicate the objectives, scope, process and interpretive guidance for the SAC Higg Index FEM Verification program. This includes:

1.1.  Ensuring that appropriate information is provided to Verifiers and Facilities that utilize this program
1.2.  Providing a consistent verification program
1.3.  Providing a consistent method of reviewing Verifiers, including performing QA activities
Individuals and groups to whom this Manual applies includes:
2.1. SAC Staff
2.2. SAC Verification Program Manager (VPM)
2.3. Verifiers, and Potential Verifiers
2.4. Facilities utilizing the Verification Program
2.5. Companies who employ SAC Eligible Verifiers


3. Roles and Responsibilities


Roles and Responsibilities
Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
& SAC Staff

Programmatic oversight including strategy, capacity, quality, and financial sustainability

Managing the VPM and Verification Expert Panel (FAC)

Providing and managing data systems and platforms (Higg.org)

Serving as the ultimate decision-maker on issues escalated by the VPM

Facilities Advisory Council (FAC)A select group of SAC members that support the SAC in programmatic oversight, offering expertise and recommendations on key program- related decisions
Verification Program Manager (VPM)

Following VPM policies defined in SAC-VPM Agreements

Managing the Verifier Application Process

Vetting Applicants

Providing training to Verifiers

Determining Eligibility of Verifiers

Conducting Quality Reviews and Managing the QA Surveys of Verifiers

Providing required information and data to the SAC

Verification Firms

Employing Verifiers that meet SAC’s minimal qualifications in locations where Verifications are required

Ensuring Verifiers act ethically and honestly

Providing necessary oversight and support to Verifiers

Providing opportunities for Facilities to verify self-assessments

Ensuring Verifiers follow the Terms of Use provided by the SAC

Ensuring necessary quality controls are in place to produce trusted,
verified results from their Verifiers


Conducting Verification activities in an effective, efficient and proper method

Maintaining expertise in the Higg Index, environmental management areas, as well as Local Laws and Regulations, as needed to provide accurate and credible verified Higg Index scores

Acting ethically and honestly

Following the Terms of Use provided by the SAC

Communicating with the VPM as required during the Verification


Selecting Higg Eligible Verifiers

Providing feedback on Verifiers and the verification process 

4. Verification Mindset

Moving out of the audit mindset requires a new vocabulary. Below are changes to traditional auditing vocabulary:

Audit VocabularyVerification Vocabulary
Non-Complaint CriteriaMissing Criteria
Corrective Action Plan (CAP)Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)


2. The Higg Index FEM measures a facilities environmental performance from basic awareness to aspirational across a set of environmental impact areas. There is no pass/fail score; no checklist of requirements, no certification; and no “good” or “bad” score — just a recognition of where a facility is in understanding and taking action to reduce their impact on our communities and planet. Given this, the Verifier’s job is to evaluate, using their expertise and Higg training, whether the facility’s self- assessment scores are accurately answered based on the intent of each question asked and the evidence the facility is able to provide. Higg questions can be challenging to answer and the Verifier is there to provide a clear definition of what the meaning and requirements are so that Higg scores are comparable across factories. Remember that this is NOT meant to be an audit where discoveries are made in an attempt to fail a facility. The Verifier is there to identify and correct for discrepancies in scoring only.


5. Verification Types 

Onsite Verification: Verifier is required to visit the facility premises.

1.1. Onsite Verification MUST be chosen if: 1) there is a desire to publicly communicate Higg Index scoring and/or 2) a factory is required to complete Level 2 and 3 questions in the Chemicals Management section.

2. Offsite Verification: Verifier is able to conduct the verification from a distance by other means such as e-mail, pictures, web-conference, etc. Verifier is not required to go onto the facility site.

2.1. Offsite Verification can be chosen if scores are only being shared with supply chain business partners inside of the Higg Index platform and NOT being communicated publicly.

3. Selection of on-site vs. off-site verification by a facility is based on the following decision:

3.1. Off-site verification: Internal facing only (cannot be used or shared publicly)

3.2. On-site Verification: Public facing (can be used and shared publicly)


6. Verification Flow


7. Verification Benefits

1. There are many benefits for Facilities to be verified by an SAC Higg Eligible Verifier:

1.1. The Verifier has been vetted to ensure they have proper experience and knowledge. Each Higg Eligible Verifier must:

1.1.1. Have education in an environmental-related field

1.1.2. Have knowledge of Environment laws, regulations, and systems

1.1.3. Have extensive experience in the verification on Environmental aspects in factory settings

1.2. The Verifier has received in depth training on the intent of each question and expectations for a “yes” answer. They have undergone in-depth Higg training and passed a final exam and are therefore well qualified to ensure answers are accurately answered and comparable from one facility to another.

1.3. The Verifier is always working off the most up-to-date SAC approved materials and has access to a wide knowledge base including official answers to questions raised by facilities and verifiers globally.

1.4. Official Verified results are captured on Higg.org and can be:

1.4.1. Shared with business partners in lieu of having another verification conducted, therefore reducing or eliminating “audit fatigue”

1.4.2. Tracked, though time, demonstrating year-over-year improvement