Handover of the helsa Compliance and Safety Standard Seal: from left Valentin Groß (helsa Energy and Environmental Manager), Aartee Patil (CEO helsa Icon India), Sandeep Prasad (General Manager helsa Icon India) and Gerd Homski (General Manager helsa Fashion Shaping)Congratulations to Aartee Patil (CEO helsa Icon India) and her team!The helsa Safety and Compliance SealThe new factory building in HyderabadA look at the new production hallThe helsa Icon India workers
15.12.2017 helsainside, helsanews

With good conscience in India

Or: How to stay objective as an auditor

India is a country of many contrasts. On the one hand, emerging economies, and the most stable democracy in the region. On the other hand, issues such as broader population poverty and social tensions remain unresolved. Sacred cows on the side of the road, long lines of countless vehicles winding through a sea of buildings, the colorful mixture of tradition and modernity. This is everyday life in India’s major metropolises. And in the middle of it all: International fashion labels that have their clothing sewn here. Even helsa has a location here. We produce shoulder pads in Hyderabad, a city with seven million inhabitants and the capital of the state of Telangana. This rapidly growing industrial city is nicknamed "Cyberabad" and is the centre of the biotechnology and high-tech industry

We spoke with Valentin Groß about how helsa assumes social and ethical responsibility as a company that produces there. The Energy and Environmental Manager visits our plants annually to audit workplace and equipment safety, environmental & energy management systems and compliance. Plants that pass the audit receive the helsa Compliance and Safety Standard (hCSS) certificate.

Valentin, you were in India and successfully audited our plant there. How did it go?

We are fortunate to have a new, state-of-the-art production facility there that we just opened in June. This obviously is a great situation for an auditor: The safety precautions comply with the latest standards. There were really only a few small things that needed to be addressed. The challenge here will be to maintain this high standard and not become careless.

 

India is one of the world’s major greenhouse gas producers. The Indian government has said that it aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 33-35% by 2030 through the expansion of renewable energy production.
What can we do at helsa to help?

In terms of saving energy, we are currently examining whether a photovoltaic system would be feasible at this plant. Using renewable power would give us independence from dirty coal power, which makes up around 60% of the energy mix in India. We definitely want to do our part towards the transition.

 

helsa audits itself. Is an objective audit possible in this constellation? How do you change roles from being a helsa employee to a neutral auditor?

That’s a good question. It’s actually not that difficult because we created a check list for precisely this reason. It enables me to objectively audit each location according to exactly the same criteria. In fact, we already had two cases where the audit was not passed. Corrective actions had to be taken and compliance with the helsa standards rechecked before the certificate was issued.

Our customers also audit our facilities independently of us. They decide on our further cooperation. So you do need to be very rigorous since we will be externally audited again.

This just shows that you are – or need to be – objective as an internal auditor.

 

Valentin, how can a German company produce in low-wage countries like India with a good conscience?

On the long trip to India Managing Director Homski explained to me why we produce here. Clothing industry suppliers need to be where their customers are. Proximity is essential in this fast-paced industry. This is the only way to offer good, personal service and make it in this competitive market.

If you do economically sound business, then you can create desirable jobs. The helsa Compliance and Safety Standard (hCSS) is our own tool to ensure social responsibility. It supports us in offering employees a safe workplace with job security. Many of our nearly 1,000 colleagues have worked for us for years and all of them are part of the helsa family.

 

Thank you for answering our questions, Valentin!

 

For Monika Sandler, owner of helsa Group International, solidarity in the workplace is a top priority – in Germany, Hungary, Cambodia or India. “Humanity – See others in their need” is one of our company principles at helsa.

In India this solidarity is reflected in events that demonstrate humanity, such as the woman who was taken off the street and now has a leading position in the company. Or in the health insurance paid by helsa so that workers can visit the doctor for free.

helsa’s idea of family thrives across national borders. 

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