Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)



Established with the support of the UK's Department for International Development, the Ethical Trading Initiative is a tripartite organisation bringing together companies, trade Unions and NGOs with the aim of improving working conditions across supply chains.

The ETI also lobbies the UK government to promote ethical public sector procurement.



The ETI Board has overall control over policy and strategy. It includes corporate, trade union and NGO members.

Core funding comes from DFID and is supplemented by a combination of members' fees, individual project funding and trading income.



The ETI has some 70 members representing £166 billion in turnover, and claims to reach millions of workers each year through its members' ethical trade activities.

The ETI counts some of the UK’s best known brands as members.

Although the ETI does not provide information about individual supply chain production sites in which the Base Code is being implemented, it does claim that approximately 40,000 suppliers are affected.


Member assessments:

Rather than auditing member companies' production sites, the ETI chooses instead to focus on programmes, in particular supply chains where there are good opportunities to improve working conditions through multi-stakeholder collaboration.

However, responsibility is placed on member companies to progressively implement the ETI Base Code in full throughout their supply chains.

The ETI currently focuses only on working conditions and labour rights. Members of the ETI have to report annually on their ethical trade activities in relation to the Base Code.

The ETI Secretariat and representatives from trade unions and NGO membership also conduct random validations.



ETI has been criticised for fostering little progress with regard to working hours, living wages and collective bargaining rights, in spite of improvements in health and safety and elimination of child labour.

ETI has also been criticised for failing to integrate workers and voices from the Global South in its decision-making process as well as not challenging the significant asymmetry of power between retailers and suppliers.

Moreover, ETI has been criticised for expecting producers to bear the brunt of compliance costs.



Because the ETI does not directly audit production sites or accredit auditing companies, certificates are also not issued to any member company.

There is no consumer facing label and compliance with the principles is used for business to business purposes. Corporate members are, however, able to notify consumers of their ETI membership, for example, on their websites.



At present, information about individual company performance and the specific production sites covered by the Base Code is not made public by the ETI.




Mainstreaming Ethical Consumption - Sponsored by Triodos