Global Standards - UN Global Compact (UNGC)

Issues addressed: human rights, labour rights, environment and anti-corruption

The UNGC is a United Nations initiative to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible business practices. The UN Global Compact is the world’s largest sustainability initiative and is both a practical platform and a learning resource for businesses and stakeholders across the globe.

Signatories (or participants) to the UN Global Compact are required to sign a CEO Statement of Support, which is a statement of commitment to address the 10 guiding principles and the broader social goals outlined in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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After 12 months of becoming a signatory the organisation is required to produce an annual Communication on Progress (CoP), outlining how the organisation has addressed the 10 guiding principles.  The report needs to be submitted annually and is uploaded onto the UN Global Compact’s website.

The UN Global Compact is not an auditable standard – it is based on self-disclosure.

The 10 principles include:


–        Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and

–        Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.


–        Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

–        Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

–        Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and

–        Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.


–        Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;

–        Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and

–        Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.


–        Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.

If your organisation needs help identifying which certification scheme or framework best suits your business or sustainability strategy, please get in touch. We welcome the opportunity to help you develop your sustainability program.

SA8000 (Social Accountability)

Issues addressed: labour rights standards including child labour, forced labour, health and safety, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and remuneration

SA8000 is an auditable certification standard that encourages organisations to develop, maintain and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace and to incorporate them into a management system.

The SA8000® Standard can be applied to any company of any size worldwide.  Adopting SA8000 certification means an organisation must consider the social impact of their operations in addition to the conditions under which their employees, partners and suppliers operate.

One of the key requirements of the SA8000® Standard is for workers (usually factory workers) to be paid a living wage. Wages shall be sufficient to meet the basic needs and to provide discretionary income – in some cases this may be more than the minimum wage determined by the law of the sovereign state.

The table below outlines stats relating to the number of facilities that are certified to SA8000, the countries represented, the industries represented and the number of employees who are working in SA8000 certified facilities.

  • Number of employees -1,998,17
  • Certified facilities-3,860
  • Countries represented-64
  • Industries represented -56
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ISO 26000:2010 – Guidance on social responsibility

Issues addressed: human rights, labour rights, environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues and community

The ISO 26000:2010 Guidance on social responsibility addresses the following seven core subjects:

Human rights

Labour practices

The environment

Fair operating practices

Consumer issues

Community involvement and development


The ISO 26000 is an excellent resource to help organisations adopt sustainability practices and it provides lots of background information about social responsibility, including principles (accountability, transparency, ethical behaviour, stakeholder interests, human rights) and characteristics (expectations of society and role of stakeholders) of CSR.

The guidance document also offers detailed information about the seven core subjects and the Annex includes a really useful table that gives a cross-sector analysis of how the seven core subjects relate to other intergovernmental initiatives like the OECD, UN Global Compact, Global Reporting Initiative, Ethical Trading Initiative, and SA8000.

This document can be used by organisations of all sizes, including small to medium-sized organisations (SMOs) as it includes specific considerations for SMOs.

ISO 26000 is not a management system standard and as such cannot be used as certification.  It is to be used as a guidance document only.

ISO 20400:2017 Sustainable procurement - Guidance

Issues addressed: human rights, labour rights, environment, fair operating practices, consumer issues and community

ISO 20400:2017 Sustainable procurement – Guidance provides guidelines for organisations wanting to integrate sustainability into their procurement processes.

The standard defines the principles of sustainable procurement, including accountability, transparency, respect for human rights and ethical behaviour, and it highlights key considerations such as risk management and priority setting. It also covers various stages of the procurement process, outlining the steps required to integrate social responsibility into the purchasing function.

ISO 20400 is aimed at organisations of all sizes in both the public and private sectors, as it applies to virtually every purchasing decision from office supplies and caterers, to energy providers, building materials and more.

By focusing specifically on the purchasing function, ISO 20400 is a sector-specific application of ISO 26000.

ISO 20400 provides guidelines, not requirements. It is therefore not intended for certification purposes.