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New OECD due diligence guidance targets the garment and footwear sector

08 February 2017

‌The garment and footwear sector is one of the largest consumer goods sectors in the world. Although it represents an important economic driving force, the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in 2013 brought global attention to the risks of severe adverse impacts both in manufacturing but also further upstream.


The result of an extensive, multi-stakeholder process, this sector-specific guidance will help companies identify and prevent potential negative impacts related to human rights, labour, the environment and corruption in garment and footwear supply chains worldwide. It offers comprehensive and government-backed recommendations to business that address risks they may face in both manufacturing and sourcing materials. The guidance provides, for the first time, a common understanding of supply chain due diligence for the garment and footwear supply chains in line with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.


The guidance promotes a systematic and integrated approach to managing risk and purchasing, involving on-going, proactive and reactive processes, with a focus on progressive improvement. It recognises both the diversity of the sector as well as the complexity of the challenges that the sector faces. The guidance recommends that enterprises take a collaborative and risk-based approach to identify ways to address impacts of its operations and sourcing decisions and monitor progress over time, while encouraging ongoing engagement with business partners in developing economies. It calls on buyers to embed social, human rights and environmental considerations into their purchasing practices, and collaborate with common buyers to avoid supplier audit fatigue, so that companies can direct their resources towards prioritising the prevention of more severe impacts.


The OECD and emerging economies worked closely with businesses throughout the supply chain, trade unions, non-governmental organisations and other experts to produce the guidance. It is a concrete response to the G7 Leaders’ Declaration adopted on 7-8 June 2015 in Schloss Elmau, which welcomed international efforts to “promulgate industry-wide due diligence standards in the textile and ready-made garment sector.”


The OECD has a long standing commitment to ensuring responsible business conduct. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – the broader code of conduct for business – are the oldest and most comprehensive set of recommendations for business, covering all areas of business ethics, human rights, labour rights, corruption, and environment degradation, among others. The guidelines were originally adopted in 1976 and have been updated on several occasions since then to ensure their continued relevance. The OECD has also developed tailored guidance to help enterprises build responsible supply chains in other sectors, specifically: extractives, minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas, agriculture, and finance.