In this exclusive piece, Sarah Ng, the organisation’s communications manager, tells Toy World readers why the ICTI Ethical Toy Program remains as vital as it ever was.
How effective and applicable is your responsible supply chain programme?
Did you know that 75% of supply chain organisations say they have responsible or ethical sourcing programmes in place? However, the latest research from Gartner  shows that the effectiveness of these responsible sourcing programmes vary.
The gap between the monitoring levels of these programmes should be of concern to Responsible Investors; the research highlights that some businesses only deliver the policies to their suppliers, and some ask suppliers to undertake comprehensive on-site factory audits. In our experience, the next steps would be to go beyond audit to remediate and rectify non-compliances, then later encourage behavioural changes by providing capacity building so that suppliers improve their standards in a sustainable way.
Further to this, recent research  has revealed that two-thirds of business leaders in the UK are already replacing suppliers that don’t live up to their corporate social responsibility values with ones that do. It is great to read how businesses are making purpose-led decisions, although these shifts might cause temporary pressure and supply chain disruption.
In order to advance ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) metrics in the supply chain, businesses are facing two common challenges: the effectiveness of the various supply chain sustainability programmes, and the possible negative impacts on their suppliers base.
30 years ago, the toy industry went through a similar journey – industry leaders came together to seek an aligned ethical manufacturing standard, along with solutions to keep it up-to-date and relevant to the industry.
Unified Ethical Standard Tailored for the Toy Industry
Back in the 1990s, many large toy brands and retailers created their own Codes of Conduct, founding up to 70 ethical standards for toy manufacture. This made it very difficult for toy factories to comply with the varying standards of all their customers and created significant amounts of audit duplications.
To create impact, increase efficiency, and reduce costs, an industry-wide ethical manufacturing standard was called-for in the toy industry. The International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) created the Code of Business Practices, which represented one unified ethical manufacturing standard for the industry, the purpose of which was to drive convergence, raise standards, and reduce duplication of social audits in the global toy industry supply chain. The ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP) was later established to oversee the implementation and certification of this standard. IETP is a independent not for profit organisation.
The standard for Brands and Retailers is the IETP standard
In order to ensure the Ethical Toy Program continues to fulfil evolving needs and reflect the changes in legislation and requirements of the toy sector, IETP is advised by a Technical Advisory Council (TAC).
The TAC meets on a regular basis and brings together responsible sourcing representatives from major toy manufacturers, brands, retailers, and licensors to offer guidance and support. Examples of current members include Hallmark, Hape International, Wal-Mart, Wynnewood Corporation Ltd., Target, and The Walt Disney Company, to name a few.
The comprehensive insights from the TAC are used in the development of the Ethical Toy Program audit checklist, products, and services, to ensure these deliver maximum benefits to manufacturers and buyer members.
In other words, IETP is constantly reviewed by industry representatives to ensure our standards are aligned with the standards of brands and retailers, making it easy and simple for buyers who recognise our ethical certification to achieve their sustainability goals.
Once a brand or retailer adopts the IETP programme, they are automatically connected with an industry-wide responsible sourcing community using widely recognised standards and a global supplier base of 1,000+ certified factories who already comply with their responsible and ethical standards.