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
In the field of corporate social responsibility, there has been a lot of talk about how the buyers' purchasing practices influence suppliers' ability to comply with their code of conduct. Buyer actions, such as large rush orders or last-minute design changes, contribute to supplier inability to meet labor standards. The traditional top-down supplier code of conduct typically used by multi-national companies fails to include their social responsibility as buyers.
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.
A major innovation in the Handbook is the Buyer-Supplier Mutual Code of Conduct as a tool for meeting the UN Guiding Principles on 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, SAI Director of Corporate Programs & Training. "This is a major difference from today's typical Supplier Code of Conduct which focuses exclusively 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 integrates respect for human rights. The six-steps are:
"We aim to tie the two [buyers and suppliers] together into a more collaborative effort to improve social performance," said Mr. Moss.
Pre-subscribe Now: SAI Handbook on UN Guiding Principles. This article was written by SAI Communications Intern Shirley Wu (SWu@sa-intl.org). For inquiries, contact SAI Communications Manager Joleen Ong (JOng@sa-intl.org).