New BSCI Code of Conduct Supports Companies Towards More Successful Business Practice
Brussels, 3 February 2014. The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), a leading business-driven initiative for improving working conditions in factories and farms in global supply chains, has launched a new Code of Conduct that provides a powerful and ambitious reference point to support retail and other importing companies towards the integration of an innovative vision of business that places social responsibility at its core.
In a context of globalisation, an efficient, reliable and sustainable supply chain is paramount. Increasingly, long term success depends not just on economic but also social and environmental performance. In this way, the new BSCI Code of Conduct enables companies to approach good labour conditions in their supply chain not only as a legal obligation but also as an opportunity to strengthen the business long term.
Stakeholders at the Heart of BSCI
The new BSCI Code of Conduct is based on a decade of experience in helping companies improve working conditions in their international supply chain. It has been developed after more than one year of intense consultation with NGOs, labour organisations and other expert actors, in both Europe and sourcing countries, and aims to answer business demand for greater efficiency and societal demands for greater transparency.
“Stakeholder engagement is a vital pillar for BSCI and their input has been essential to come up with a code that would comprise the different concerns and expectations”, stated Lorenz Berzau, BSCI Managing Director. “We wanted to ensure that the new BSCI Code would reflect the latest development within supply chain relations and the growing call for good business practices”.
The adoption of this text is the culmination of a very significant year for BSCI. 2013 witnessed the celebration of its 10-year anniversary: “After a decade of work, it was time for a self-assessment, to identify our main achievements and to prepare for future challenges. In this framework, the revision of the BSCI Code of Conduct was an essential process which greatly contributed to our aim for continuous improvement”.
Marieke Weerdesteijn, Chair of the BSCI Stakeholder Council and staff member of Solidaridad, endorsed the process: “The new BSCI Code of Conduct brings the development approach which the organisation and its participants strive towards to the next level. The Code also incorporates various new elements that reflect recent developments in the field of corporate responsibility, including the dialogue around fair and living wages and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Through discussions in the BSCI Stakeholder Council, as well as through an open consultation process, stakeholder input was taken into account during the revision process.”
11 Principles Aiming at the Highest Labour Protection
Each of the 11 labour principles of the Code of Conduct has been revised to integrate the most advanced international texts on labour rights. The principle of Prohibition of Child Labour has been separated into the Interdiction of Child Labour and the Special Protection for Young Workers to reflect the diversity of situations that can exist. The principle of Compensation is covered under the more comprehensive concept of Fair Remuneration that includes not only quantitative, but also qualitative aspects of wages.
In addition, two new principles have been added. Ethical Behaviour in the form of collecting and communicating accurate information about the company and countering corruption, is now requested of business partners. Commercial partners should also make sure that employees have documentary evidence of a working contract in compliance with national law and are aware of their rights as workers to make sure there is No Precarious Employment.
“The new BSCI Code of Conduct is a more ambitious set of principles, that aims at spreading the culture of responsible business to all business partners involved in the international supply chain”, explained Lorenz Berzau, BSCI Managing Director.
Social Responsibility at the Core of Business
The new BSCI Code of Conduct emphasises the benefits of a broad approach to improved working conditions. Auditing business partners is an important step for the transparency of working conditions, but it has to be embedded in a holistic framework of actions. It also emphasises the importance for businesses to develop the necessary systems to prevent any risk that may be detected in their supply chain. Business partners are additionally expected to cascade the importance of social responsibility in their own sphere of influence, thus allowing increased leverage and impact.
The new BSCI Code also gives greater emphasis to the engagement of workers and their representatives, as well as establishing grievance mechanisms as a key means to promote improvements in working conditions. BSCI will continue to support companies through a variety of training sessions to build on business partners’ and workers’ knowledge and achieve greater results.
Building on cooperation with stakeholders, the improvement of working conditions in the international supply chain will continue to be an essential value of the BSCI and its participating companies. BSCI strongly believes that the new code better empowers all actors to tackle the modern challenges of a globalised supply chain and better reflects their sincere interest in improving working conditions at every opportunity.
For more information, please contact:
Head of Communications, BSCI
Tel: +32 2 741 6409
Note to editor:
The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is a leading business-driven initiative for companies committed to improving working conditions in factories and farms worldwide. Established by the Foreign Trade Association (FTA), it proposes a development-oriented system applicable to all sectors and sourcing countries. The BSCI is an initiative of the Foreign Trade Association, which is Europe’s premier association for trade policy and global supply chains. It brings together over 1000 retailers, importers, brand companies, and national associations to improve the political and legal framework for trade. See more at: www.bsci-intl.org.