Global Automotive Quality Standard Now Includes Ethics Requirements

New IATF 16949 standard covers 9 OEMS and 5 automotive supplier organizations.

(Image courtesy of AIAG.)

(Image courtesy of Automotive Industry Action Group.)

It’s been over a year since Volkswagen was caught cheating on EPA tests, but the effects of that scandal are still reverberating throughout the automotive industry. Case in point: the upcoming revisions to the automotive industry’s most widely used international standard for quality management will now include references to corporate ethics.

The standard — previously named ISO/TS 16949, now replaced by IATF 16949—has been revised by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) based on industry feedback and engagement.

“This is the first time that ethics language has been included in an automotive quality standard,” said Tanya Bolden, director of corporate responsibility products and services for the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). “It’s significant because it gives us an opportunity to verify where the supply base stands on several core ethics policies.”

The new IATF 16949 standard states that certified organizations must implement basic corporate responsibility policies, such as anti-bribery policies, an employee code of conduct and an ethics escalation (whistle-blower) policy.

Nine North American and European OEMs and five national automotive supplier associations have agreed to include corporate responsibility requirements in the new quality standard.

“The language is basic, but it clearly requires automotive sites worldwide to provide documentation that they have established an employee behavioral expectation code, implemented a formal process to report code violations and published an anti-bribery policy,” Bolden explained. “There are no incremental costs to suppliers or OEMs to capture this corporate responsibility data.”

(Image courtesy of AIAG.)

(Image courtesy of Automotive Industry Action Group.)

By late 2018, more than 65,000 supplier sites that are certified to the new standard—primarily Tier One and Tier Two direct-part manufacturers—must be physically audited and re-certified by an approved IATF third-party certification body. Non-compliance could result in suspension of a supplier’s quality certification and limitations to accessing new business opportunities.

Fortunately, the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), which oversees the creation of these global standards, is offering a free knowledge assessment tool so that industry professionals can identify gaps in their understanding of the Group’s Global Guidance Principles and address them before being audited.

For more information, visit the AIAG website.