How do I get an S-Rating?
Before you set out to enter into a business relationship with Audi, you will receive an invitation from us to participate in the S-Rating. This invitation to participate in the S-Rating procedure is tied to the specific location and depends on the related DUNS number.
Your company location will be assessed using a standardized questionnaire for the automotive industry, which you have to fill out online. This self-assessment questionnaire, also known as the SAQ, takes other factors into consideration and determines your S-Rating score, i.e. whether you can be awarded contracts or not. Regardless of the outcome, the SAQ can help you identify defects and deficits and actively address them. For this purpose, the SAQ offers you specific suggestions for improvements to enhance your assessment. We recommend that you implement the suggestions for improvements and work constantly toward gaining your S-Rating.
If anything unclear emerges in your answers in the SAQ, an on-site check can additionally be arranged for your location. One of the objectives of this on-site check is to examine working conditions and information from employees during on-the-spot interviews. The on-site check is required as a supplementary audit instrument only if the self-assessment questionnaire falls below a risk threshold.
The S-Rating is valid for a maximum of up to six years. The procedure has to be completed again after the S-Rating has expired at the latest.
were completed for the VW Group
were completed for the VW Group
What is the SAQ?
The main points at a glance:
The SAQ is a questionnaire asking you for a self-assessment of your sustainability performance. An S-Rating is determined using your answers. You may be required to make improvements or to undergo a location-specific review of your sustainability performance following an initial appraisal.
The self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) is a key auditing instrument for assessing your company with regard to essential internal company guidelines and management systems. The questionnaire covers the following subject areas: Human rights, working conditions, occupational safety (health and safety), environment, and corporate ethics. The current version of the SAQ is 5.0, which allows you to answer in six languages: German, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Chinese (Mandarin).
As a future business partner, please fill out the questionnaire completely and truthfully. Participation in the SAQ is free of charge for you. It is possible to review the sustainability efforts of your company only if the questionnaire is filled out correctly. In addition to the answers you provide in the questionnaire, documents and certificates confirming the information may be required, which have to be submitted in one of the languages specified above. You will be requested to upload these as PDF files at the appropriate point.
The result of the self-assessment questionnaire is crucial for your assessment in the S-Rating and thus also for any cooperation. It is possible to award contracts only if the S-Rating is positive.
This is how you complete the self-assessment questionnaire
Please register on the supplierassurance.com platform.
Input the correct DUNS number and the invitation code there. You will find these in the invitation email.
Fill out the self-assessment questionnaire. Include the required documents and certificates to supplement the information you provide.
Check the information you have given to make sure it is correct.
Send the completed questionnaire.
SAQ in detail
The basis of each questionnaire is provided by the five minimum requirements, which have to be satisfied in order to receive an assessment in the S-Rating. These minimum requirements are written statements of principles from the management of our suppliers. You will be asked about these at several points within the self-assessment questionnaire. To be able to participate in the S-Rating, these minimum requirements have to be answered with “Yes” and corroborated by appropriate documents.
The five minimum requirements are: Code of conduct, working conditions and human rights, occupational health and safety, corporate ethics, and environment. In the current version, 5.0, the SAQ deals with the minimum requirements in question 3, 5, 7, 9 and 10.
While the contents of the questionnaire must be completed in full, formal standards also have to be complied with. These include the presence of the company logo, the official date as well as the name and the signature of the managing director.
- Suppliers need to have a code of conduct implemented at their site.
- Suppliers need to have a policy in place regarding human rights and working conditions, including at least the topics child labor and young workers, wages and benefits, working hours, modern slavery (i.e. slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking), freedom of association and collective bargaining as well as harassment and non-discrimination.
- Suppliers need to have a policy in place regarding health and safety, including at least the topics emergency preparedness, incident and accident management and fire protection.
- Suppliers need to have a policy in place regarding business ethics, including at least the topics conflicts of interests as well as Anti-Corruption and Anti-Money Laundering.
- Suppliers need to have a policy in place regarding environmental sustainability, including at least the topics greenhouse gas emissions reporting, energy efficiency, renewable energy as well as sustainable resources management and waste reduction.
For more information on drawing up a declaration of principles, please see the FAQs.
Environmental Management System certification
Locations with own production sites need to provide evidence for a internationally recognized, certified environmental management system, i.e. ISO 14001:2015 or EMAS (question 11 of SAQ 5.0). Since October 2022 a valid certification is a mandatory prerequisite for a positive S-Rating.
Companies that are currently in certification process can extent the due date for a maximum of one year, latest until October 2023. Please use the template and send the signed commitment letter to the following address:
Commitment letter | Environmental Management System certification
1 page, EN
Audit of the self-assessment questionnaire and next steps
The NQC auditors validate your self-assessment questionnaire using the documents you have attached. The validation can take up to five work days. Should questions or anything that is not clear arise during this step, you will receive a notification from NQC.
After the audit has been completed, you will receive recommendations on how improve your rating. You can also find these recommendations for improvement at supplierassurance.com under the item “Recommendations” in the questionnaire after you have logged in.
We obtain access to your questionnaire and the evaluation using the invitation code you used to register at the beginning. We derive your S-Rating valid at this time from this percentage score and ultimately determine it using a variety of factors that form the basis of our decision. This results in the decision on whether you are eligible to be awarded contracts or not. You can learn your result by asking us.
The status messages of the SAQ have the following meanings
Response: Each new self-assessment questionnaire that is started begins with the status “Answer”. In this phase, you can fill out the questionnaire and add the required documents to it.
Review: After you send us the completed questionnaire, it is given the status “Review”. In this step, NQC checks whether the documents you have uploaded are valid as verification of your answers. The process generally takes five days. You cannot edit the SAQ during this period.
If NQC identifies gaps or omissions in the questionnaire, the status is put back to “Answer”. The reason for this can be that not all the documents have been accepted as proof. Invalid documents can for example be certificates that have expired or documents that have been submitted in the incorrect language. Only documents in German, English, Spanish, French, Portuguese or Chinese (Mandarin) are accepted during the audit. Please see the FAQ for more information on the formal requirements that a document has to satisfy.
Improvement: If NQC cannot see anything wrong with the documents, the SAQ is given the status “Improvement”. The status changes automatically to “Completed” after 24 hours.
Completed: The SAQ has been answered and validated in full. It is regarded as completed, which also means that the result is established. You can continue to work on the self-assessment questionnaire and update documents to improve your result, however. Use the recommendations for improvement that NQC provides you with for that. The SAQ has to be reviewed again each time that it is edited. Your current score remains valid until a new validation result is available.
Tips for filling in the questionnaire and other information
The self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) is a standardized questionnaire for the automotive industry. The catalog of questions is regularly updated; the SAQ that is currently valid is version 5.0. The SAQ has been devised and developed by Drive Sustainability, a partnership between several automotive manufacturers. This initiative, which Audi is also a part of together with the Volkswagen Group, is committed to ensuring greater social responsibility and sustainability in the automotive sector.
NQC provides the questionnaire on supplierassurance.com as an external service provider. Registering on the platform and completing the SAQ are free of charge for you. As an independent party, NQC evaluates your answers in the questionnaire and reviews whether they are correct using the certificates that you upload. Your information can be reviewed only by using the invitation code. This offers you the benefit that the SAQ is valid not only for the Volkswagen Group but also for the other partners in the initiative if that is what you would like.
You can stop filling out the questionnaire at any time and come back to it at a later time.
You can fill in the self-assessment questionnaire together with your colleagues. You will find the option to add other users to the account in your settings on supplierassurance.com.
You can improve your S-Rating by taking into consideration the “Recommendations” in the questionnaire after you log in. We expressly recommend that you continually optimize the S-Rating, for example by keeping documents up to date – even if you have already been classified as eligible to be awarded contracts.
The self-assessment questionnaire is always valid only for the location to which the DUNS number has been assigned.
Drive Sustainability provides the current SAQ 5.0 as a PDF for download. You can familiarize yourself with the questions in advance and discuss them within your company.
The questionnaire contains explanatory background information that will help you to fill it out.
You will also find more information that may be useful to you when you fill out the questionnaire in the Supplier Handbook from Drive Sustainability. The Supplier Handbook is available only in English.
You can contact NQC at any time if you have technical questions about the platform and the SAQ by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling +44 845 299 2996 or via live chat.
What is the on-site check?
The main points at a glance:
An on-site check is generally commissioned by us as an additional auditing instrument if NQC identifies inconsistencies or major gaps or omissions when reviewing your SAQ. But an on-site check can also take place independently of the self-assessment questionnaire. Should divergences be discovered during the review, these will be transparently communicated and documented. We expect all divergences to be remedied on the basis of a suitable action plan within a strictly defined period.
Like the SAQ, the on-site check is an essential integral part of the S-Rating and free of charge for you. Unlike the self-assessment questionnaire, which is mandatory for all companies, the on-site check is not a compulsory step in the overall process, however. An on-site check will not be arranged if you company location is already given a positive rating on the basis of the SAQ. The location-specific review takes place only if the result of the SAQ suggests an increased sustainability risk. The location-specific review also provides transparency about the sustainability performance on-site. The on-site check reviews the location as a whole using eleven primary criteria. The on-site check lasts a total of eight hours. The sustainability assessor of our audit partner Intertek conducts the following five activities at the location during this time: Initial meeting with the location’s management, site inspection, and interviews with employees, audit of documents, preparation of an interim report (CAP), and final discussion.
The on-site check is intended to help you recognize deficiencies that negatively influence the S-Rating. At the end of the on-site check, the sustainability assessor that we have commissioned will draw up what is known as a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) with you. The implementation of the measures that are listed will be checked by Intertek and us at regular intervals in order to guarantee that the deadlines that have been set are met. The on-site check is a supplement to the SAQ. It does not release you from the obligation to continuously improve the self-assessment questionnaire, however.
This is how the on-site check proceeds
If we consider an on-site check to be necessary at your location, you will receive a request for this by email.
Our external service provider will agree upon a date in the near future with you.
On the day of the on-site check, the assessor will carry out the five activities mentioned above at the location.
After the successful review, Intertek will draw up a final report, known as the Corrective Action Plan (CAP), which you and the assessor sign.
The measures laid down in the CAP have to be implemented by you within the deadlines.
In the event of major breaches, a follow-up will be conducted in what is known as a reaudit to check whether you have implemented the measures as recommended.
In the Corrective Action Plan, the assessor lists all the deficiencies that have to be remedied in order to upgrade the S-Rating – i.e. you eligibility to be awarded contracts – on the one hand and, on the other, the general working conditions of your employees on-site. To this end, the CAP contains specific measures, the implementation of which will be reviewed by Intertek and us in what are known as reaudits. Furthermore, you confirm by signing the report that you agree with the deficiencies that have been identified. All the measures contained in the report are sent to us with your agreement.
The on-site check reviews your location independently of your answers in the SAQ. Instead, the on-site check comprises eleven categories that are always inquired about during each check. These categories are: General management, child labor and young workers, freely chosen employment, employees’ rights, participation of the employees, work hours and overtime, fire safety and safe evacuation in an emergency, occupational health and safety, the handling of hazardous materials, environment, and supply chain management.
Aspects that have a negative impact on the result of the on-site check include for example emergency exits that are blocked, breaches of the working hours act, or the improper storage of chemicals.
What is the compliance check?
The main points at a glance:
The compliance check is conducted based on risk. A successful audit is the prerequisite for cooperation.
A further audit of your company in addition to the SAQ and the on-site check will be necessary in some cases. This is known as the compliance check. This audit is called the Business Partner Due Diligence (BPDD) and serves to promptly identify risks such as corruption and money laundering.
You will be actively requested by the Volkswagen Group to take part in the compliance check if this is necessary. For more information on the compliance check, please visit: Business Partner Due Diligence. Please do not hesitate to contact the BPDD team at BPDD@volkswagen.de if you have any other questions on this subject.
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