Guardini S.P.A.—a manufacturer of baking and houseware goods with about 90 employees—was founded in 1947 and is a third-generation, family-run company. Guardini achieved SA8000 certification in 2000, becoming the fourth company to be certified in Italy.
Market Value & Management Value
Guardini initially sought SA8000 certification because they saw the value the certificate could represent. It was an opportunity for them to send a message to stakeholders and buyers about the high level of social performance in their company. That message could gain them access to a northern market that places a high value on social performance. After 20 years, Guardini has maintained SA8000 certification because they see the benefits from continual management systems improvement.
Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Workers’ Needs
While initially doubtful about its internal value, as Guardini’s systems have matured, SA8000 has become integral to the way they do business. This has led to a positive atmosphere and work environment, improved reputation with stakeholders, and significant positive feedback into operational systems. These days, Guardini has less than 0.5% annual employee turnover, as most workers who enter the company eventually retire with them. They also have an extremely low sick-leave rate at the company, a problem for many other companies in Italy. The management systems-approach they implemented because of SA8000 has increased productivity across all operations.
SA8000 has kept Guardini a step ahead of a changing global market. Over the last 10 years, their external stakeholders have shown increasing interest in social performance. Sandro Tarozzo, Quality Manager at Guardini, remarked that SA8000 is like shifting into another gear, allowing them to exceed expectations and leave the world a better place. For Guardini, workers are their most important stakeholder and SA8000 has enabled them to meet their stakeholder’s needs.
Good Practice: Valuing Communication
At Guardini, the Social Performance Team (SPT) (required at all SA8000-certified organizations) has become a fundamental part of daily activities. Forming the SPT has opened both formal and informal communication channels between workers and managers that substantially increase the frequency and value of that communication. The team meets formally on a regular basis (once or twice a month) to manage social performance for the company. Having strong formal communication channels had the effect of educating and empowering worker representatives to provide meaningful feedback to the system on an ongoing basis. Now, team members have informal conversations over coffee or in the break room on a daily basis, discussing what is and is not working in the organization.
Because they consider workers their most important stakeholder, Guardini is proud of the steps they have taken to ensure workers are informed and included. One way Guardini has kept workers informed is through a monthly newspaper reporting on changes and updates to company systems. This paper has allowed even workers outside the decision-making process to feel involved and knowledgeable about the company’s direction.