Buying behaviour has changed and the relationship between global brands and their customers who support them is being transformed by the rise of the conscientious consumer.
Covid-19 has amplified this trend with consumers seeking choices that are increasingly influenced by their environmental and ethical concerns. These conscious consumers want to be confident that their purchasing choices have supported the workers involved in their production and have not negatively impacted on their employment or human rights, wherever they are in the world.
However, the industry landscape for ethical trade and responsible sourcing standards is fragmented and crowded. Moreover, organisations are driven to create their own private second- or first-party schemes because the scope of existing methodologies do not always ensure that serious issues are resolved or offer certification that suppliers can use to showcase their ethical credentials.
Drawing upon its expertise as a leading global brand and consumer protection organisation, BRCGS has recognised the need for a different approach. With the launch of Issue 2 of its Ethical Trading and Responsible Sourcing Standard, brands, specifiers, retailers and their suppliers will be equipped to make sure that the goods and services they manufacture, produce or sell do not harm or disadvantage the workers involved.
BRCGS has developed the Standard so that it provides a clear and unambiguous framework that suppliers can use to build an effective management system to control the risks related to ethical trade issues. The Standard was developed with the input of a multi-stakeholder group including leading brands, specifiers and retailers and was informed by a public consultation process.
The resulting certification programme is delivered in line with a rigorous audit protocol that is managed by BRCGS’s best-in-class compliance management framework. In addition, the requirement for approved certification bodies to achieve accreditation against ISO/IEC 17021, together with BRCGS’s aspiration to achieve recognition by the Consumer Goods Forum’s Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (which is the social equivalent to GFSI), ensures that all audit outcomes including certification against the Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing Standard are consistent and reliable.
Fiona Humphries, Technical Manager – Ethical Trade & Responsible Sourcing, said: “BRCGS has embraced the realities of today’s global economy by providing a global standard that brands, specifiers and retailers can use as a powerful tool to provide assurance to their customers – those conscious consumers – so that they can be safe in the knowledge that their purchasing choices are ethical. We greatly appreciate the input from all the stakeholders involved in the development of a standard that will help to protect and improve the lives of workers across the globe”.
The Standard, which is based on internationally accepted conventions from the International Labour Organisation, as well as the core principles of the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, is aimed at all manufacturing sites, food and non-food sites, agents & brokers, storage and distribution companies and other related services.