Learn The Basics
1. What is the Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM)?
Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Brand & Retail Module (Higg BRM) is a holistic, sustainability assessment tool that standardizes how brands and retailers measure and evaluate their environmental and social performance, year over year.
The Higg BRM is designed to:
- Evaluate the maturity of a company’s social and environmental management system.
- Drive performance improvement and assess social & environmental risks and impacts through the due diligence approach.
- Align with standards, government initiatives, and other Higg Index tools.
- Create a scalable tool that can be adopted by the industry.
SAC Member Brands and Retailers are expected to complete, post and share their Higg Brand & Retail Module on an annual basis with their business partners. Currently, we are rolling-out the 2020 Higg BRM this means that companies are expected to report data on the 2020 calendar year (January until December 2020). The reporting cycle for the 2020 Higg BRM is from March 1 to June 30, 2021.
2. What does Higg BRM measure?
The Higg BRM measures the following environmental and social/labor practices across the value chain.
Higg BRM Structure
The Higg BRM is comprised of the below five sections. Environmental and Social indicators are populated in each section.
- Management System
- Operations & Logistics
All users will be completing the Management System and Operations & Logistics sections.
Whether the other sections – Brand, Retailer, and Stores – are unlocked will depend on your company’s business model.
Applicability/Relevancy of questions driven by business model
We have created three unique pathways – Retailer, Brand, and Stores – to ensure that companies answer relevant questions based on their business model.
By completing the Company Profile section, these three pathways are unlocked when the following three questions are answered.
- Retailer: Does your company purchase products from other companies to sell?
- Brand: Does your company create its own branded products?
- Stores: Does your company have brick-and-mortar stores?
When you start with the self-assessment, it is important that you complete the Company Profile section first. You will be able to view and complete the Brand, Retailer, or Store sections depending on your unique business model.These will appear or are hidden after answering some initial questions in the Company Profile section.
Within the Brand and Retailer section, subsections will appear which we call “lifecycle sections.”
These each represent stages of operations within an entire product life cycle.
- Supply Chain
- Use & End of Use
Based on the company’s business model, certain lifecycle stages may also not appear.
Currently there are no social indicators in the lifecycle sections Packaging and Use & End of Use, as key social risk(s) and impact(s) for supply chain partners are already addressed in the Product and Supply Chain lifecycle sections.
These tags were developed to help companies allocate questions to appropriate business functions / teams within your organization.
3. What are the benefits of using Higg BRM?
The Higg BRM provides greater value and insights in the following ways:
- Integrated approach to measure environmental and social/labor performance across the entire value chain operations (owned and operated as well as supply chain)
- Offers questions according to risk assessment, leading to better, actionable data, and more insight into your own business operations and supply chain.
- Enables rapid learning through identification of sustainability hot spots, critical issues, and improvement opportunities.
- Calculates scores and allows data verification with increased accuracy. Helps to share with your business partners.
- Catalyzes sustainability education and provides clear guidance.
- Drives improvements over time through benchmarking of environmental sustainability performance – coming soon
4. What else should you know about Higg BRM?
The Higg BRM is the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) tool for assessing the overall sustainability performance of brands and retailers.
The recommendation therefore is to have one module to be completed per brand and retailer company. The additional benefit of reporting on a per brand basis would enable holding companies to evaluate and compare brand performance on a 1-to-1 basis.
How does the Higg BRM align with the OECD Due Diligence for Garment and Footwear sector
The Higg BRM assessment intends to align with the six steps of the OECD Due Diligence process.
In the introduction of the How to Higg Guidance of each section, it is specified whether any of the steps are addressed.
What can you expect in the 2021 calendar year
For the coming year, the Higg BRM Team will continue to develop the content, verification, performance communications, and training approaches, based on user feedback captured during the 2020 calendar year.
What To Prepare
5. How Long Will It Take to Complete the Higg BRM?
The time required to complete the Higg BRM will vary depending on how much of the required data and information you have already collected prior to starting the module and how many colleagues you will have to engage. We estimate the full module will take between 4-6 weeks to complete. The system will allow you to save your responses, which you can revisit at any point.
Important Note Before You Get Started
Companies should be honest and transparent when completing assessments.
The Higg BRM is NOT a pass/fail assessment, rather it is a tool that helps companies identify opportunities to improve. When in doubt about whether your answer qualifies as “Yes,” it is recommended to take a more conservative approach and answer “Partial Yes” or “No” where applicable. When you have selected “Yes” to a question, you should provide as much supporting information as possible in the sub-questions and file upload.
6. Who to engage on the Higg BRM
Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM) – Suggested Staff Engagement Checklist
7. How to prepare for the Higg BRM
We recommend starting with a review of the Getting Started Guide, Data Collection Guide and the How to Higg Guidance.
Getting Started Guide explains the process of getting yourself and your team members prepared for the module.
Data Collection Guide provides an high level overview to understand what type of information and documentation to collect prior to completing the tool. The more information collected in this stage, the easier the tool will be to fill out. Use this list as a guide to the type of information to collect rather than a checklist where every item must be checked off.
9. Higg BRM Data Rolling Forward
In this guidance, you will learn:
What is “Rolling Forward”?
What can be “Rolling Forward”?
How to roll forward?
“Roll forward” or copy data from a prior year’s Higg BRM assessments
Brands/retailers can “roll forward” or copy the previous year’s Higg BRM data to a new Higg BRM assessment and share the new Higg BRM assessment with previous connections.
This will save brands/retailers’ time, as they will not need to enter the data in the new Higg BRM assessment if the data is the same as the previous year’s. They can then share this new Higg BRM assessment with the previous connections.
Rolling Forward rules:
- Any data not relevant to your current year won’t be rolled forward to the new Higg BRM assessment.
- You can only see the roll forward feature when you have completed a previous Higg BRM assessment and purchased a brand new Higg BRM. For example, if you completed a Higg BRM 2019 self-assessment and you will purchase a 2020 Higg BRM self-assessment, you can roll forward your 2019 Higg BRM data to the new 2020 Higg BRM assessment.
- Login to your account in Higg.org and go to the BRM homepage dashboard.
- Click “View/Edit BRM” and you will see the data rolling forward option and then hit “Continue”.
- Go to your BRM dashboard
- Select/click on “View/Edit BRM”
You will see the data rolling forward option:
5. Click/Select the “No” button under “Populate new module with previous module data”.
6. The “button” should now read “Yes”.
Your 2019 data will be rolled forward into your 2020 BRM assessment.