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close this bookAction Against Child Labour (ILO, 2000, 356 p.)
close this folder6. Strategies for employers and their organizations
View the documentLabelling or certification schemes
View the documentCorporate codes of conduct
View the documentIndustry codes of conduct
View the documentIOE views on voluntary codes of conduct and labelling

Corporate codes of conduct

Codes of conduct are commitments made by industry groups or individual companies to uphold certain labour standards in their own direct operations and in those of their subcontractors. Such codes (also frequently known as "codes of ethics") are principally aimed at international trading arrangements in which products for the developed world are produced in whole or in part in developing nations. Companies sometimes develop these codes in response to consumers who manifest their concern that companies based in developed countries may be producing goods in developing countries where inferior working conditions exist.

Some corporate codes of conduct are general in nature and cover issues of basic business ethics. These codes often do not discuss specific issues, nor do they include methods of enforcement (80 per cent of codes of conduct fall into this category). Certain companies have gone beyond statements of general ethics and developed codes of conduct which specify the standards to be achieved and the methods of enforcement. Codes can either be limited to directly controlled activities, or be applied to contractors or subcontractors who do business with the company. Companies generally develop a name to identify their codes of conduct - such as "Global Sourcing Guidelines" (Levi Strauss), "Code of Business Practices" (International Council of Toy Industries) or "Statement of Responsibility" (American Apparel Manufacturers Association). These agreements, which are entered into on a voluntary basis by the company or industry, are often important to the company or industry image.