OUR ROLE IN Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Your Organization Can Make a Difference and ISM Can Help

Corporate Social Responsibility

Advancing Global Standards for the Supply Management Profession

ISM has a proud history of establishing and advancing global standards for the supply management industry. In fact, we were the pioneers working with our members to establish The Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct and The Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility. As consumers, governments and organizations focus more attention on issues around sustainability and social responsibility, ISM’s leadership in this area will grow in importance as a global standard for our profession to ensure that doing good is also good for business. As your representative association, we invite organizations, like yours, to get involved through our programs and education to help advance your organization and the profession at large to contribute to a more prosperous and sustainable world.

NEW! Creating a Human Rights Policy

A quick internet search will turn up stories of numerous companies on the hot seat, reacting to news that their suppliers are reported to violate human rights. While such industries as electronics, fashion or agribusiness are at higher risk, no business is entirely immune. Proactive companies build an infrastructure and processes to eliminate human rights abuses in their supply chains. The tools and templates below will help you build an effective human rights policy for your company.

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ISM's Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility

In October 2015, ISM’s Board of Directors approved important updates to the ISM Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility to represent the modern business environment.

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ISM Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility


Do not tolerate corruption in any form.

Diversity & Inclusion

Promote diversity and inclusion throughout the organization and the supply chain.


Support environmental precaution, promote environmental responsibility and encourage environmentally friendly technologies and processes.

Ethics & Business Conduct

Behave ethically always and demand ethical conduct within the organization and throughout the supply chain.

Financial Integrity

Conduct all financial business dealings and decision-making with integrity.

Global Citizenship

Act (in person and virtually) for the benefit of all global citizens, locally and elsewhere, fulfilling ethical and moral obligations.

Health & Safety

Protect persons in the supply chain from the risk of injury, danger, failure, error, harm and/or loss of life.

Human Rights

Recognize and acknowledge that human beings have universal and natural rights and status regardless of legal jurisdiction and local factors.

Labor Rights

Respect, promote and protect an individual’s labor rights as defined by applicable international conventions.

Supply Chain Sustainability

Support supplier development of more sustainable business practices, products and services and the embedding of sustainability throughout supply chains.


Make available full and complete information necessary for collaboration, cooperation and collective decision-making. Require a corresponding level of transparency from suppliers and throughout the supply chain.

Definitions of Sustainability, Social Responsibility and Related Principles


Sustainability is the ability to meet current needs without hindering the ability to meet the needs of future generations in terms of economic, environmental and social challenges.


Social Responsibility:

Social responsibility is a commitment by a business to act ethically and create benefit for the workforce, the local community and society.


ISM Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility:

The ISM Principles of Sustainability and Social Responsibility collectively define the scope of issues that are considered within the context of sustainability and social responsibility in the supply chain. The Principles cover anti-corruption, diversity and inclusion, environment, ethics and business conduct, financial integrity, global citizenship, health and safety, human rights, labor rights, supply chain sustainability, and transparency.

The Importance of Supply Management to Sustainability and Social Responsibility

The supply management business function is critical to any organization’s success in implementing policies, processes and practices that improve sustainability and social responsibility. From a legal and risk perspective, the supply management function must ensure that companies within their supply chains are not engaging in illegal, unethical or harmful practices to either people or the environment. This responsibility extends to all tiers of the upstream supply chain, not just immediate suppliers. From a business opportunity perspective, supply managers can positively incentivize suppliers to improve their sustainability and social responsibility, and work with them to improve their capabilities. This can lead to additional business benefits of reduced cost, increased access to markets/buyers, and better recruitment and retention of talent. Although many companies have attended to sustainability and social responsibility within their own operations, fewer have engaged their supply chain. This leaves many risks and opportunities unaddressed.

ISM provides education and tools to assist  you with upskilling your team, connecting with valuable suppliers and keeping up to date on research, guidelines, best practices and future trends so you can react and adjust your strategies and policies.

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The Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct

Fostered from initial guidelines in 1986 and evolving to The Principles and Standards of Ethical Supply Management Conduct, Institute for Supply Management® (ISM®) recognizes 10 foundational principles of ethical behavior. From these principles, guidelines are established to:

  1. Encourage adherence to uncompromising ethical behavior
  2. Increase awareness and acceptance of ethical conduct and
  3. Emphasize the role of ethics when formulating decisions.

A distinguishing characteristic of a profession is that practitioners combine ethical standards with the performance of technical skills. In partnership with professional leaders and our ethics committee, these guidelines are continually reviewed and updated.

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