Drafting your Code of Conduct
Here you will be guided through the process of drafting, adapting and using your Code of Conduct.
1. Choosing the topics for your Code of Conduct
When you choose the topics for your Code of Conduct, it is important to assess what is relevant for precisely your company. Under the “Knowledge about” tab under the individual topics you will find a detailed description of the subject, and under “Links” you will find several links to websites that provide further information on the topic.
A good starting point for choosing topics is to take a closer look at the specific social and environmental challenges in your own business sector, as well as the typical social and environmental problems in the countries from which you are buying.
You can find inspiration from other companies in your own business sector or from common industry guidelines, where such guidelines exist. Read more about common guidelines for social and environmental practices in the different business sectors under Find your business sector. You can also find inspiration on social and environmental risks in selected supplier countries under Country profiles in Phase 2.
2. Create your Code of Conduct
Once you have decided what topics to include in your Code of Conduct, click on the relevant topics in the list in the left-hand menu. Under the first tab you will find a brief introduction to the topic. Under the introduction text you will find a text, formulated as a supplier requirement, and which will appear in your Code of Conduct.
Click on “Save to clipboard”. The selected topics will be displayed in the right-hand box. When you have saved all the selected topics in the clipboard file, click on “Save your Code of Conduct” and your Code of Conduct will be automatically generated.
You can also create a self-assessment form, including a cover letter and a checklist, which you can use in conjunction with your supplier assessment (in Phase 4). The self-assessment form and checklist will contain the same topics as the ones you have included in your Code of Conduct.
3. Adapt your Code of Conduct
In addition to the topics you have selected, the generated Code of Conduct contains an introductory and closing text along with a coverletter. As it is a Word/Odf document, you can easily adapt the text and language to your specific requirements. Remember to include your company’s and the supplier’s name in the blank document fields. You can also include your logos. The same applies to the self-assessment form and the checklist.
You can also consider whether translating your Code of Conduct into the local language of certain suppliers will facilitate dialogue with them.
4. Consider whether to have several Codes of Conduct
You should consider whether you want one Code of Conduct to apply to all suppliers or whether you want to adapt your Code of Conduct to the specific supplier’s context. Standard practice is to use the same Code of Conduct for all suppliers.
Having said this, there may be sector- or country-specific differences between suppliers that justify different versions of a Code of Conduct. As far as sector-specific conditions are concerned, many suppliers in the service industry, for example, will seldom face challenges in environmental protection and industrial accidents. And when we look at country-specific conditions, suppliers in the West will seldom have problems complying with fundamental social and environmental requirements in a Code of Conduct. In such cases it may be worth considering whether to omit certain requirements from the Code of Conduct you forward to these suppliers.
To ensure that your requirements are observed further back in the supply chain, you should ask your suppliers to communicate your requirements to their sub-suppliers. If you decide to have several versions of your Code of Conduct, you should be aware that suppliers further back in the supply chain may face social and environmental challenges not shared by your immediate supplier.
5. Send out your Code of Conduct as a contract addendum
We recommend that you send out your Code of Conduct as an addendum to the supplier contract. You should ask suppliers to confirm in writing that they can live up to your Code of Conduct, and that they are prepared to draw up an action plan for improvements in areas in which they fail to meet the requirements set out in your Code of Conduct.
It is important that your suppliers view your Code of Conduct as an important element in your cooperation. You should therefore enter into dialogue with your suppliers regarding your expectations and your ability to support them in being able to meet your requirements.
Be particularly aware that cultural differences and national legislation can make it difficult for certain suppliers to meet your requirements. Positive supplier dialogue helps to prevent conflicts in these areas.