I spent the past couple of days in Los Angeles visiting my sister, and on the flight back I had a chance to read Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin. If you ever get a chance to watch the documentary Temple Grandin (starring Claire Danes) or read any of her books, Thinking in Pictures or Animals in Translation, definitely do. She is a leading authority on autism as well as animal welfare – her autism gives her the rare ability to understand animals and she’s led an intriguing life.
I find that reading her writing is such a breath of fresh air – she writes simply, in a way that shows her purity of thought. She exposes things to us that seem so simple but are never things you considered – for example, the fact that animals with more fear end up surviving longer, that single trait genetic breeding eventually backfires, that all animals are inherently intelligent in their own way.
Beyond the topic of animal welfare, one of the ideas that struck me was her idea of animal welfare audits, and it got me thinking of audits that we use for CSR in general, whether they are factory audits, environmental audits, social compliance audits. I remember reading a McDonald’s CSR report several years ago and reading about Grandin and not really understanding the relevance of her metrics:
- percentage of animals stunned, or killed, correctly on the first attempt
- percentage of animals who remain unconscious after stunning
- percentage of animals who vocalize during handling and stunning
- percentage of animals who fall down
- electric prod usage
However, the book explains that she used a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) style which is typically used in food safety audits, completely simplifying audits to have a “single measurable element that cover a multitude of sins”, which in turn has revolutionized the way that cattle are handled in the US. So in the age of proliferating audit criteria and efforts to simplify them through initiatives such as the Global Social Compliance Programme, how can we apply HACCP principles to reduce audit fatigue for social and environmental compliance audits?