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A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses
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How to Develop a Code

The scope and coverage of your code should match the scope and coverage of the compliance system overall.  If your company chooses to develop its own code instead of joining an existing one, it is important to first familiarize yourself with good practices in code development.  For instance, the process should be transparent and allow for input from a wide variety of stakeholders, including workers and their representatives. 

The ISEAL Alliance, a global association for social and environmental standards, has published a Code of Good Practice for Standard-Setting that outlines the fundamental steps in developing any set of standards.  According to ISEAL the process should include:

  • Clearly defining the objectives of the standard and justifying its need
  • Identifying affected stakeholders and providing them opportunities to participate
  • Having public consultations and ensuring a balance of interests
  • Making the standard publicly available and reviewing it on a regular basis  

Each of these principles is more fully elaborated in the ISEAL Code of Good Practice. 

Example In Action

GoodWeave Code Revision Process

Since 1994, GoodWeave International (formerly RugMark International) has been certifying rugs as Child Labor Free under its code of conduct, the Generic GoodWeave Standard.  In the mid-2000s, in response to stakeholders’ concerns, GoodWeave decided to expand its set of standards to also include forced labor, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, and other working conditions. Between 2007 and 2010, GoodWeave assessed and determined there was a need to update its certification criteria; researched the viability of an expanded standard; established an international Standards Committee and standards development process; and undertook extensive international stakeholder consultations. The resulting standard was adopted and implemented in 2011. 

See the results of the public consultations, including feedback from interested parties and drafts of the new standard.

Example In Action

Fair Labor Association Code Revision Process

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) is a nonprofit organization that monitors conditions in affiliated factories for compliance with its Workplace Code of Conduct, based on ILO standards, and also has detailed provisions for remediation when violations are identified.  The code is supplemented by FLA Compliance Benchmarks, which identify specific standards for each code element.  In June 2011 the FLA Board of Directors approved significant enhancements to the Workplace Code of Conduct and Compliance Benchmarks.  Six out of nine elements of the adopted code were either newly created or revised, in areas ranging from employment relations, hours of work and compensation to health, safety and environment.  The revised code was developed over a two-year period through a process that sought suggestions from a broad range of stakeholders and was adopted by a board that includes equal representation from companies, NGOs and university members. 

Obtain more information and view the complete Workplace Code of Conduct and Compliance Benchmarks, revision highlights and a side-by-side comparison to the previous code.