The process of evaluating a firm's various operating procedures, code of conduct, and other factors to determine its effect on a society. The goal is to identify what, if any, actions of the firm have impacted the society in some way. A social audit may be initiated by a firm that is seeking to improve its cohesiveness or improve its image within the society. If the results are positive, they may be released to the public. For example, if a factory is believed to have a negative impact, the company may have a social audit conducted to identify actions that actually benefit the society.
A social audit (i.e SA 8000,BSCI,WRAP,SEDEX,WAL-MART,ADDIDAS,DG etc) looks at factors such as a company's record of charitable giving, volunteer activity, energy use, transparency, work environment and worker pay and benefits to evaluate what kind of social and environmental impact a company is having in the locations where it operates.