Methodology

Certification and participation-based standards (see more detailed explanations here) are assessed objectively and transparently, on a voluntary basis, using this well-founded methodology. This allows you as a company to make an informed decision about the opportunities and limitations of standards in your due diligence process and choose the right standards for your needs – credible, ambitious, and based on due diligence requirements.

What is being assessed?

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The assessment methodology used by the Standards Tool is based on the most important framework for human rights due diligence requirements – the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The methodology is based on this universal framework and does not reflect any legal requirements, such as those formulated in the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains, for example.

The methodology was developed by the Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights and GIZ on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and in collaboration with some of the foremost experts in the field of human rights due diligence requirements and performance evaluations for companies and standards: Shift, German Institute for Human Rights (Deutsches Institut für Menschenrechte, DIMR), International Trade Centre (ITC), ISEAL and World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA). The assessment methodology was prepared by consulting with the experts at different points throughout the process. ITC, DIMR and Shift were heavily involved in developing the criteria catalogue. ITC, ISEAL and WBA established the system of Scoring and weighting as part of two consultation workshops held with the Helpdesk on Business & Human Rights. The methodology was developed in coordination with experts from the government-run textile label Green Button (Grüner Knopf) and also Siegelklarheit, the Federal Government's online portal for sustainable consumption based on credible labels.

The assessment refers to what requirements the standards set for participation or certification in terms of the due diligence process, not how these requirements are actually put into practice. Thus, particularly good results in the Standards Tool indicate that a standard has the right focus for supporting your due diligence processes, but it cannot offer any information on its impact on the ground. Therefore, wherever possible, you should always also read these results in combination with the Federal Government's Minimum Criteria for Credibility (Link dazu) as well as our section on What standards can achieve and our Checklists so that you can better interpret the results. For companies, standards agencies and public bodies, the assessments in the Standards Tool are inadequate as a basis for determining compliance with due diligence requirements; standards alone can only ever support legal due diligence requirements, they can never fully satisfy them.

Unlike other information portals such as Siegelklarheit, the assessment methodology here is based solely on criteria for the due diligence process. Additional social or environmental criteria are not included in the criteria catalogue.

How does the assessment methodology work?

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The assessment of the standards is based on a criteria catalogue and an accompanying scoring system. Using this catalogue, standards are then assessed across the five phases of the due diligence process. The data collection process is managed by the International Trade Centre (ITC), which collects the data for the Standards Tool independently. The following section offers a transparent explanation of the assessment methodology.

Where do the data for the assessment come from?

Our data collection partner is the International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC manages the world's largest database of sustainability standards – the Standards Map. The Standards Map provides comprehensive, verified information on sustainability for more than 300 standards transparently and free of charge. These data are regularly updated and are used by the Standards Tool as part of its assessment methodology.

What standards are assessed?

The Standards Tool differentiates between standards based on their approach. It assesses both certification and participation-based standards (see here also the section on Certification and participation-based standards). As part of a first phase, 21 standards were selected. The list of standards is being gradually expanded until all relevant standards in the ITC database are included in the Standards Tool. Relevant in this context means that the standards take a certification and/or participation-based approach. There are also other standards in the ITC database that do not fit into either of these categories (e. g. IFC Performance Standards) and which are consequently not assessed in the Standards Tool.

What are the components that make up the assessment methodology

The assessment methodology consists of 40 due diligence process criteria, whose degree of fulfilment is further determined by ITC data points. All components of the methodology, including the associated scoring, were consulted and agreed with international cooperation partners.

40 Criteria
These criteria are the heart of the methodology. A criterion comprises a question and accompanying guidance. The criteria are divided across the five phases of the due diligence process (see Due Diligence Compass). The number of criteria differs from phase to phase. However, this does not impact the assessment in any way as each phase is assessed and evaluated separately (no overall assessment). 

Criteria grid


Data points on the ITC Standards Map

The 40 criteria in the Standards Tool are based on data points collected by ITC that further define the degree of fulfilment of the criteria. Each of the ITC indicators used in the Standards Tool is based on data points from two dimensions:

  • Degree of obligation (DoO): The DoO stipulates the deadline which the standard sets the company for fulfilling an indicator. Compliance with the deadline for implementation is a requirement for certification or participation in a standard. Each indicator can take one of the following forms:
    • Immediate action: The company must have already satisfied the indicator by the time of its certification or membership, respectively.
    • Transition period: The standard grants the company a limited transition phase (between 1-5 years) for satisfying the indicator.
    • Recommendation: It is recommended that companies satisfy this indicator, but this is not a strict requirement for certification or membership.
       
  • Degree of Criticality (DoC): The DoC defines the consequences of failing to satisfy an indicator after certification or membership has been granted. The standard may stipulate the following consequences in the event that this occurs for one or more indicators:
    • "Deal Breaker": If the indicator is classified as a Deal Breaker, failure to satisfy the indicator will lead immediately to de-certification or withdrawal of membership.
    • Major non-compliance: If the company fails to satisfy the indicator, it must immediately submit a Corrective Action Plan that will be reviewed within a very short space of time.
    • Minor non-compliance: If the company fails to satisfy the indicator, it must submit a Corrective Action Plan that will be reviewed as part of its regular audits.
    • Optional compliance: Just like with DoO, it is recommended that companies satisfy this indicator, but failure to satisfy it will not lead to de-certification or withdrawal of membership.

Scoring and weighting
The requirements of a standard are reviewed based on the criteria and accompanying ITC indicators. Scores are awarded per indicator according to how much the standard requires. Following the recommendation of our partners from the consultation workshops, DoO and DoC are integrated into the overall assessment of an indicator equally, at a ratio of 50% each.

 

Note: A criterion from the Standards Compass can be based on one or more ITC indicators. In this case, the average is calculated so that there is no skewing of the scoring. We have implemented 1:1 matching with the ITC indicators, i.e. each of the 40 criteria is covered by one or more different ITC indicators.

 

Example calculation
The requirements for Criterion 1 "Statement of Policy" are covered by fulfilment of two ITC indicators: "Criteria on human rights: general principle" (ITC indicator 2026) and "Criteria on policies and procedures addressing human rights" (ITC indicator 900023). If the first ITC indicator has a Degree of Obligation of "Within 3 years" (DoO), for example, and the Degree of Criticality is classified as "Major non-compliance" (DoC), this gives values of 3 and 4 respectively (see table below). The second ITC indicator in this example is classified as "Recommendation" only, hence it only has to be implemented as "Optional compliance". Consequently, this indicator would score a value of 1. The average of these two indicators is now calculated and the DoO and DoC are applied in halves. This produces a degree of fulfilment of Criterion 1 "Statement of Policy" of 56.25%.  

Filter options in the Standards Tool

The Standards Tool has filters that make it easier to narrow down your search to suitable standards. In addition to the option of entering the name of the standard, you can also apply the following filters: 

Standard approach:
The Standards Tool distinguishes between a certification-based and a participation-based approach, both of which you can select via the filter. Therefore, users can only compare standards within one of these categories. Standards that take both a certification-based and a participation-based approach are listed in both categories, so that they can always be compared with standards of the same type.

Sector focus:
Are you interested in standards for a specific industry? You can pre-select these directly using the sector filter. You also have the option of selecting cross-industry standards.

Supply chain coverage:
Using this filter, you can select the stages of the supply and value chain that are relevant to you and which the standard should cover (see the example figure below). In principle, we differentiate here between those standards that cover the individual stages of the supply chain and those that certify the entire supply chain (Chain of Custody).

 

Credibility:
The Standards Tool is founded on the Federal Government's minimum criteria for credibility of standards (see Siegelklarheit methodology). In the Standard Profile page, these minimum criteria are marked for the standard as either "fulfilled" or "not assessed".

 

What can the assessment methodology do, and what can't it do?

The Standards Tool helps you to identify and compare which standards can best support you across the five phases of the due diligence process. In doing so, it assesses which requirements a standard sets for the participating or certified companies in order to show what difference a certain standard can make to the implementation of due diligence requirements. What is not assessed is the actual implementation of the specifications of a standard. The tool also does not assess whether a standard is the right one for your company. Your company must determine this for itself, taking into account its specific supply chain and processes within the company.

The accompanying texts What standards can achieve and the Checklists will help you better understand what difference standards can make in general, and what questions you should ask of a standard in order to find out how the requirements can be implemented in practice.

The methodology is based on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and does not reflect any legal requirements, such as those formulated in the German Act on Corporate Due Diligence Obligations in Supply Chains, for example.

 

 

How data is being collected?

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ITC coordinates the data collection process and provides raw data to the Standards Tool. The criteria of the Standards Tool are connected to the indicators on the ITC Standards Map, meaning that the data can be used directly for the assessment. The experts at ITC have been specially trained in the requirements of the Standards Tool.

Standard organisations provide these experts with all relevant documents and review the data after they have been collected. The final quality assurance is then conducted by the ITC experts before the raw data are imported into the back-end of the Standards Tool and the assessment methodology is applied.

If the standard organisation agrees to publish its own assessment, the results of this are entered into the Standards Tool.

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