Shape Industry Norms


Engage in efforts to shape value chain-related norms and standards.

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Industry norms and standards can both restrict and enable value chain sustainability outcomes. Helping to embed sustainability expectations into industry norms and standards can lead to a broader and more sustained impact than addressing one issue, decision maker, or supplier at a time. To collaborate with peers, you will need to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability and ability to contribute. This will depend on your organisation’s track record on sustainability and potential to influence.

Socialise sustainable procurement expectations

You can positively influence procurement and supply chain norms by embracing and promoting sustainability practices within your industry. Participate in key forums like professional associations, industry initiatives, or conferences to help shape event agendas and disseminate sustainability concepts through panels, case studies, workshops, guidance, blogs, and articles. 

Help develop guidance and standards

Help formalise sustainability expectations by helping to co-develop industry standards. In doing this, you're not just defining obligations but also streamlining processes that require coordination. If your organisation is smaller or lacks a reputation for sustainability, you can leverage personal relationships with individual practitioners to foster the trust needed for partnerships. Participating in industry initiatives and events is a great way to create these relationships.¹ It is crucial to consider diversity, transparency, and verifiability during any standard setting process, ensuring that the standard covers all areas where an issue could be relevant.² Transparency is essential, inspiring trust and facilitating action among various players. Consistently updating information, providing accessible reporting, and conducting regular reviews can bolster credibility and incite further action.³

EXAMPLE: Apparel brands commit to a standard system for assessing social impact.

Apparel brands are replacing their proprietary auditing tools with the Higg Facility Social & Labour Module standard scoring system. The tool removes the need for individual audits, reducing supplier fatigue, freeing up time and resources for suppliers, and enabling data comparability.⁴

EXAMPLE: Palm oil value chain participants join forces to develop a sustainable palm oil standard

Organisations across the palm oil value chain, from processors to financiers, have joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). They aim to minimise the environmental and social impacts of the palm oil industry by implementing a global sustainability certification standard.⁵

EXAMPLE: Fashion brands partner up to tackle forced labour

Recognising the systemic nature of forced labour among foreign migrant workers involved in their Asian supply chains, seven apparel and footwear companies came together to address the issue. With support from the NGO Verite, they have developed a standardised reporting and assessment process facilitating supplier reporting on eradicating worker recruitment fees that are often responsible for saddling migrant workers with unpayable debt.

EXAMPLE: GSK’s sustainable sourcing standards

Within their sustainable sourcing program, GSK worked with internal and external experts to develop five sustainable sourcing standards for materials that do not currently have robust certification schemes. The standards cover key impact categories and contain a clear list of requirements to clarify a route to achieving sustainable sourcing.⁷

Help standardise key value chain data

You can improve access to data by seeking opportunities to collaborate with peers or other value chain actors to collect, share, and standardise key value chain data.Collaborating to collect, share, and standardise key value chain data can improve sustainability disclosures and reduce audit fatigue for your value chain partners.

EXAMPLE: DRIVE shared materials risk inventory

DRIVE, a partnership between major automakers, produced a shared materials risk inventory to address the common sustainability sourcing challenges they face.⁸

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Effective Standard Setting

This guide by Goodweave details how to set practical standards focusing on child labour, but the principles it covers apply to sustainability standards broadly. The principles are: 1) Set rigorous standards with multi-stakeholder input, 2) Ensure comprehensive coverage of the supply chain, 3) Include prescriptive and preventative requirements, 4) Require actionable remediation, and 5) Encourage improvement over time.

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Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct

This Responsible Business Alliance Code of Conduct provides a set of social, environmental and ethical industry standards that align with international norms for human rights and labour standards.

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International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry

The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry outlines a legally binding agreement between textile retails/brands and global trade unions to ensure workplace safety. Key principles include accountability, transparency, independence, worker participation, and inclusive governance.

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ICMM's Mining Principles

ICMM's Mining Principles guide good environmental, social, and governance practice for companies through a set of 39 performance expectations and 9 positions statements for the mining and metals industry.

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Building More Resilient and Sustainable Global Value Chains Through Responsible Business Conduct

This paper by the OECD explores the links between responsible business conduct and global value chains, emphasizing the relationship between business practices and environmental and social impacts. It offers guiding actions to build resilience in global supply chains for businesses and governments.

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ISO 20400

The first international standard for sustainable procurement created by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Explore Market: It can help inform your pre-planning process by offering guidance on integrating sustainability criteria into procurement processes, engaging with suppliers, and assessing sustainability risks.

Policies and Processes: The standard can be used to help develop and implement sustainable purchasing policies and processes.

Review: The measuring and improving performance section provides techniques to implement and continually improve sustainable procurement.