SA 8000 is an international standard that defines the minimum labour condition standards for employees, particularly in transnational companies. Its originator is Social Accountability International (SAI), an international non-governmental organisation which certifies companies on a voluntary basis. The standard is based on the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations (UN). (www.sa-intl.org/sa8000)
Scope of reporting
In order to establish financial reporting comparability, for companies that are not subject to the reporting obligation of the CSR Directive Implementation Act, the Code declaration generally refers to the same group of companies as those included in the consolidated financial statements. In some cases, it may be expedient and necessary to deviate from this. As a rule, it is necessary to expand the scope beyond that of the financial reporting when discussing individual criteria relating to the supply chain, for instance. In such instances, the companies indicate this and give reasons for their decision. Companies subject to the reporting obligation of the CSR Directive Implementation Act must explain in their Code declaration with regard to scope of reporting whether they are preparing a non-financial declaration or a non-financial report that uses a scope comparable to that of the annual financial statements and the management report which focuses at its core on the individual company, or if they are preparing a non-financial declaration or a non-financial report with a scope comparable to that of the consolidated annual financial statements and the consolidated management report and as such related to the consolidated group of companies.
Stakeholders are legal or natural persons or groups of persons connected to an organisation’s sphere of activity that either have an influence on its business operations or are already or will, in the future, be significantly affected by the activities, products and/or services the organisation. These include, for instance, business partners, employees, clients and suppliers as well as municipalities, parties, associations, government bodies, non-governmental organisations, financial service providers, creditors, etc. (see criterion 2). A distinction is made between internal stakeholders, i.e. groups of people within the organisation (e.g. employees, executives, union representatives) and external stakeholders, in other words interest groups outside of the organisation (e.g. local residents, associations, media, competitors).
Stakeholder dialogue refers to the discourse held with a company’s stakeholders about its sustainability strategy or sustainability goals and projects and is these days regarded as an important sustainability management instrument (see criterion 9). The AA1000 Stakeholder Engagement Standard (AA1000SES) of the non-profit network AccountAbility provides a list of principles for the successful handling of stakeholders. (www.accountability.org/standards)
In this context, a standard is a comparatively uniform and widely accepted course of action that is usually taken into account. A standard is often the result of a standardisation process. Whether a standard is established by a public or other formalised procedure or by general recognition is not decisive.
Supplier management systems
The practical implementation of increased transparency requirements in procurement management poses considerable challenges for companies, as obtaining and evaluating information can tie up significant resources. Companies increasingly find themselves confronted with numerous questionnaires and controls. Various industry initiatives and platforms offer Web-based assistance for supplier questionnaires. These include the BSCI, E-TASC, EICC, PSCI and Together for Sustainability. Platform providers include, for example, Achilles, EcoVadis, FFC (Fair Factories Clearinghouse), Intertek GSM, NQC, Sedex and SupplyShift.
The supply chain is the sequence of activities or parties that provides products or services to the organisation. Depending on a company’s business area, supply chains can be of different lengths or branched. The depth of the supply chain denotes the stages of extraction of raw materials, prefabrication, refining, production, sales and logistics. Furthermore, product responsibility may also refer to the use of the products by customers as well as recycling and disposal (value chain).
Sustainability aspects are the topics that enable sustainable development in the first place. The Sustainable Development Goals or the list of topics featured in the GRI Standard can provide initial guidance regarding what sustainability aspects there are.
The Sustainability Code is aimed at companies and organisations. On the basis of 20 criteria and a selection of quantifiable performance indicators, the transparency standard describes sustainability services in a transparent and comparable form, the so-called declaration of conformity with the Code or Code declaration. With its assistance, the way in which companies embed sustainability into their core business can be assessed. Opportunities and risks become visible and can be managed proactively. (www.sustainabilitycode.org)
The sustainability process is the development and implementation of an organisation’s sustainability strategy.
A sustainability strategy outlines how the relevant sustainability aspects will be handled. Sustainability strategies are the core foundation of sustainability management. They relate to key processes within companies and the political arena and are to be systematically integrated into processes and measures throughout all areas. Sustainability strategies are well suited for management purposes when they contain goals and time frames as well as quantifiable indicators, are reviewed regularly and regular reporting is carried out on goal achievements and, if necessary, conflicts among goals. Authors of sustainability strategies may be organisations, companies and nation states, countries, and local governments.
Sustainable Balanced Scorecard (SBSC)
The SBSC is based on the Balanced Scorecard. It is a concept for measuring, reporting and managing an organisation’s activities in which not only financial metrics are applied, but also questions of vision and strategy. The SBSC extends this to include sustainability.
Sustainable Development Goals
The 17 development goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are a set of political targets agreed by the United Nations. They link the principle of sustainability with economic, ecological and social development. This system of goals is universal and applies equally to developing, emerging and industrialised countries. In this way, the new Agenda intends to form the foundation for an evolved global partnership. The SDGs were approved by the UN General Assembly and entered into force on 01/01/2016 with a term of 15 years (until 2030). (sustainabledevelopment.un.org)
Sustainable value is a tool for calculating the economic effects of a business (increase in value) by including the environmental and social burdens associated with it. The concept was developed by a group of German scientists. (www.sustainablevalue.com)