Information on how to: build company support for advancing social responsibility, and make a public commitment to socially responsible seafood


Make a public commitment to socially responsible seafood

Build company support for advancing social Responsibility


  • Build support internally and make a business case for advancing social responsibility, by determining what social criteria or issues are in line with company goals and strategy.


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The United Nations expects that companies will respect internationally recognized human rights for all employees related to the business enterprise, and that companies will include human rights in their policies in order to regulate their suppliers as well as their own operations (United Nations Global Compact, 2015). 



Building company buy-in


Companies can begin by defining their core values in relation to human rights and establishing priorities for addressing social issues in seafood. Finding a champion of social responsibility within the company is an important element of the successful development and implementation of company commitments. Such leadership provides support and an imperative to continue to strengthen and improve company social responsibility practices.


In addition, designating a "sustainability team" that can talk about the marketing, compliance, and social good benefits of company social responsibility practices helps to generate long-term commitment to such policies.  

This may also involve educating leadership on human rights risks in seafood in order to raise awareness about the types of human and labor risks that exist in seafood supply chains.


As a company begins to work on social responsibility improvements, it is important to invest time to identify the company’s priorities, ambitions, and goals in regards to social responsibility.

Supporting Resource:

Companies and partnering NGOs can use this questionnaire to understand a company’s interests and concerns related to improving social responsibility and preventing potential human rights violations in its supply chains.


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Make a public commitment


  • Develop and share a public commitment to prioritize sourcing that meets social responsibility standards.


Make the case for action


Companies and investors are looking to meaningfully take action on a variety of sustainability challenges facing our world today, including Sustainable Development Goal number 14, Life on the Water, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, based on a human rights agenda, provide a global framework to help companies consider the full spectrum of their environmental and social impacts.

Leading companies and investors are looking for a clear path forward. Companies who demonstrate leadership in advancing social responsibility with an eye beyond a “quick win” approach gain the opportunity to set themselves apart and define best practice for the industry. This approach involves going beyond a compliance lens to recognize the value of building human rights principles into their core business strategies.

Understanding the various benefits companies receive by addressing social responsibility can help companies understand the value received by prioritizing human rights.

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Committing to an expanded definition of social responsibility


Although human and labor rights abuses have been priority issues for companies as they pursue social responsibility, there are many additional dimensions of social responsibility impacted by companies’ work in seafood as defined by the Monterey Framework. Companies will need to determine which dimensions of social responsibility their commitments will address, from the most egregious human rights abuses such as human trafficking, to more holistic social responsibility dimensions such as ensuring equity and equitable opportunity to benefit, and improving food and livelihood security. Companies can take the first step by adding social and economic well-being dimensions to social responsibility commitments, seafood sourcing, and buyer commitment policies. 


There is no singular way to craft a social responsibility commitment. Companies should develop policies and commitments that are tailored to their goals, capacity, and operations, while aligning with industry best practice and international standards whenever possible.

Components of a social responsibility commitment

As a best practice, a social responsibility commitment specifically addressing human and labor rights generally contain the following five components:

A general statement of commitment to protecting human rights

A commitment to uphold international guidelines

A statement of specific social responsibility provisions protected

A public expression of how a company will achieve its commitment with time-bound benchmarks and measurable indicators of improvement

The company’s expectations of suppliers throughout the supply chain via sourcing policies

In addition, the Common Vision, a six-step guide for companies to pursue sustainable seafood developed by the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions, recommends that commitments:


  • State the scope of the business included (e.g. all divisions or a subset)

  • State the seafood products covered by the commitment (e.g. wild-caught, farmed, fresh, frozen, shelf-stable, private label, branded, value-added, nonfood items such as pet food and supplements, specific menu items, etc.). If the commitment doesn’t include 100 percent of the company’s seafood, include the percentage covered by volume, as well as the implementation plan to ensure human rights are respected across all products and operations

  • Include an independent risk assessment and periodic monitoring that engages workers and their organizations in a meaningful way and publishes the results of such inspections and the resulting corrective actions taken

  • Outline specific activities the company will undertake to address the critical areas of data collection, transparency, procurement, education, and supporting improvements in fisheries and aquaculture as related to social responsibility

  • Identify specific time-bound social responsibility goals and objectives, and publicly report on the company’s annual progress towards these, as well as identify the work that remains

Guidance on how to craft a commitment to social responsibility
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Once a social commitment is crafted, companies should ensure it is communicated through appropriate channels to employees, suppliers, stakeholders, and the public.