This blog article briefly discusses the framework conditions as well as possible measures for drafting a ‘Sustainability Policy’ and makes a point of reference to the EcoVadis sustainability assessment platform.
Short introduction – what is a ‘Sustainability Policy’?
A ‘Sustainability Policy’ sets a defined framework and limits the necessary actions to achieve the goals in the relevant sustainability areas (e.g. environment, social, fair business practices). Thus, the ‘Sustainability Policy’ defines guidelines for relevant sustainability sections.
Regarding to EcoVadis, for each defined area by EcoVadis (Environment, Labor Practices & Human Rights, Fair Business Practices, and Sustainable Procurement) a comprehensive ‘Sustainability Policy’ with supporting documents is required in order to provide a reasonable basis for a positive rating (the weighting of every ’Sustainability Policy’ within the EcoVadis rating is 25%).
Definitions for a ‘Sustainability Policy’ of sustainability institutions
In order to define a ‘Sustainability Policy’ (also with regard to EcoVadis), public definitions can be used throughout the creation process. The following are illustrative examples of policy definitions based on EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) and UNGC (United Nations Global Compact) regarding to the areas ‘Environment’, ‘Labour’ ‘Practices & Human Rights’, ‘Fair Business Practices’ and ‘Sustainable Procurement’:
- According to the EMAS Regulation, an environmental Policy (in relation to EcoVadis’ Environment Policy) is defined as ‘the intentions of the highest levels of management of an organization […] which regards to its environmental intentions, including compliance with all applicable environmental legislation and the Environment Commitment to continuous liabilities of environmental performance.’
- The UNGC describes a Policy on LAB (Practices & Human Rights) as a public notice regarding compliance with and respect for internationally recognized labour and human rights standards.
- Furthermore, the UNGC classifies the area of FBP (Fair Business Practices) as a sustainability aspect (UNGC has also identified the fight against corruption as a principle). Thus, corrupt and anticompetitive activities are a hindrance to sustainable development and affect in prior poor societies. Measures regarding anti-corruption prevent reputational damage and have a positive effect on relevant stakeholders.
- With regard to SUP (Sustainable Procurement), the UNGC provides the so-called ‘Supply Chain Sustainability Guide’ as a guideline for sustainable supply chains. Thus, sustainable supply chains or initial engagement with sustainable supply chains are extremely important based on the following reasons:
- Supply chain as a daily driver for the provision of goods and services
- Sustainable supply chains meet compliance requirements
- Identify supply chain related risks
- Setting of measures in relevant sustainability areas which has positive effects on society and the environment
- Transparency vis-à-vis stakeholders
- Credibility (in case of serious implementation)
Both a Policy in FBP and SUP can set a specific framework for action in these areas and provide orientation for the guiding principles of importance to the organization.
Creation of a ‘Sustainability Policy’
The process for creating a ‘Sustainability Policy’ starts with the identification of specific topics in the respective areas. As a result, relevant qualitative or quantitative goals can be set for these topics (e.g. reduction of occupational accidents up to year X by X numbers). In the final phase, a corresponding ‘Sustainability Policy’ is derived that provides the framework for the organization (e.g. obligation to comply with labour laws and provide highest employee protection).
What is the situation in practice regarding to EcoVadis?
The practice regarding to the area ‘Sustainability Policy’ at EcoVadis shows that most of the participating suppliers often only define basic policies (without specific information). In addition, the documents and evidence required for transparency are often missing. For EcoVadis a ‘Sustainability Policy’ also recognizes the support of external CSR initiatives, such as the UNGC or GRI. Some companies still have some catching up to do but on the other hand, many companies have already implemented such frameworks in their sustainability management processes.
The DFGE supports you in creating a comprehensive ‘Sustainability Policy’ for all the important areas (also with regard to EcoVadis procedure) and, as a result, setting an adequate framework for your (future) sustainability management. In addition, DFGE advises you on your EcoVadis progress with customized service packages – and webinars and trainings. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or + 49.8192.99733-20.