CSR’s Next Step: The Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct

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CSR’s Next Step: The Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct

A mutual buyer-supplier code of conduct will foster the two-way cooperation needed to improve human rights at work
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Next step for #CSR -Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct via @sa_intl #humanrights http://3bl.me/edf8tc

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With expected release in July 2012, the innovation of the Handbook is the Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct


In the field of corporate social responsibility, there has been a lot of talk about how the buyers’ purchasing practices influence their suppliers’ ability to be in compliance with their code of conduct. Buyer behavior, such as large rush orders or last-minute design changes, contributes to the supplier’s inability to meet labor standards. The traditional top-down supplier code of conduct typically used by multi-national companies fails to address their social responsibility as buyers.

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Social Accountability International (SAI), in collaboration with the Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), will publish a Handbook and initiate a training program based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Scheduled for release in July 2012, the Handbook offers a practical, six-step guide to help companies to develop and implement management systems to operationalize the UN Guiding Principles in their supply chain.

The major innovation of the Handbook is the creation of the Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct as a means of meeting the UN Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights.

“Think about expanding your Supplier Code into a Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code that states the actions you will take to avoid causing or contributing to the negative impacts of the supplier,” said Craig Moss, Director of Corporate Programs & Training. “This is a major differ­ence from today’s typical Supplier Code of Conduct which focus on what is expected from the supplier. Going forward, the Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct is needed to define shared responsibilities. We’re not telling companies to start over with their code, only to think about adding a section about their responsibility to help the supplier meet their code of conduct. ”

The Handbook provides the tools for companies to expand their existing Supplier Code into a Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code, emphasizing shared responsibilities. Recognizing many companies’ struggle with embedding the UN Guiding Principles into their daily business practice, the Handbook uses a six-step method to help companies implement a supply chain management system that integrated the respect for human rights. The six-steps are:

1.              Committing to a human rights policy
2.              Assessing human rights impact
3.              Integrating human rights in policies, procedures and responsibilities
4.              Tracking human rights implementation
5.              Communicating human rights impact
6.              Remediating human rights impact

 “We aim to tie the two [buyers and suppliers] together into a more collaborative effort to improve social performance,” said Mr. Moss.


About the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
Written by UN Special Representative John Ruggie and his team, the Guiding Principles seek to provide an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity. Endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in June 2011, the Guiding Principles outline how States and businesses should implement the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework in order to better manage business and human rights challenges.

About Social Accountability International (SAI)
SAI is a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization established to advance the human rights of workers and the social responsibility of companies by promoting decent work conditions and labor rights through voluntary standards. SAI is among the world's leading supply chain management and CSR training organizations, and has provided training to over 30,000 people since its establishment in 1997. SAI developed one of the world's preeminent social standards— SA8000— a recognized benchmark among the voluntary codes and standards initiatives. Over 1.6 million workers are employed in over 2,900 SA8000 facilities in 62 countries, across 65 industrial sectors. Website: www.sa-intl.org

SAI is headquartered in the United States with field representation in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Philippines, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States. Subscribe to SAI’s e-Newsletter at www.sa-intl.org/news and follow SAI on Twitter @sa_intl.


Joleen Ong
+1 (212) 684-1414ext. 243
Social Accountability International (SAI)
Shirley Wu
+1 (212) 684-1414ext. 226
Social Accountability International (SAI)
Keywords: Responsible Business & Employee Engagement | Laborrights | Ruggie | Training | codeofconduct | csr | humanrights | supplychain | supplychainmanagement