EDGE Standards and Certification Framework

This page contains the first section of the EDGE Certification Requirements v5.2.1. It includes the introduction and all information pertaining to Clauses 1-7 of the EDGE Certification Requirements v5.2.1.

Three pictures of figures placed in geometric shapes

To view how the EDGE Standards work (Clause 8), please visit: The EDGE Standards

To view information regarding the EDGE Certification processes and procedures (Clauses 9-10), please visit: EDGE Certification Process and Procedures

Standards and Certification Requirements Review Process

The EDGE Certified Foundation (ECF) conducts formal reviews of the EDGE Standards at regular intervals. In November 2019, an Expert Panel was convened to provide stakeholder and expert input into a formal review of the EDGE Standards on behalf of the ECF Board. The intention for future reviews is to follow practices and procedures that are consistent with those set out in the ISEAL Alliance Code of Good Practice for Standard Setting. This articulates the protocols for stakeholder engagement and processes to implement when conducting robust and credible standards reviews.


Following a standards review, ECF will specify a publication date and/or an effective date by which time Certification Bodies will need to ensure certification clients conform to new or amended Standards. ECF may also specify transition arrangements that are designed to allow certification clients to come into compliance with new or amended Standards over a given period of time.


Similarly, the EDGE Certification Requirements document is likely to undergo formal review at regular intervals, in line with reviews to the EDGE Standards. However, minor certification requirements and procedures may need to change more frequently as their practical application informs the Foundation and stakeholders’ experiences. In such cases, amendments may be made to the EDGE Certification Requirements, but usually no more frequently than once per year.


Following any such changes or review to the Certification Requirements, ECF will specify a publication date and an effective date for a new version of the Certification Requirements. The effective date will refer to the date on which relevant Certification Body processes and procedures shall conform to any updated, newer versions of the EDGE Certification Requirements.

ECF welcomes comments and feedback on the EDGE Certification Requirements at any time. Any comments or feedback will be considered in the next official review process. Please submit your comments or feedback by mail or email to one of the addresses below.


Email: [email protected]
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Certification Scheme Elements

certification scheme elements
Figure 1: Key Elements of the EDGE Certification Scheme

To help prepare for the certification process and to become eligible to apply for certification, a client engages EDGE Strategy, or a Licensing Partner to introduce and/or apply the EDGE Empower® software to the organization. A fee is paid to EDGE Strategy or a Licensing Partner, for use of EDGE Empower®.

The client chooses the most recent 12-month reference period against which both the initial assessment and eventual certification audit will be conducted. The reference period may be a calendar year, fiscal year, or some other 12-month period that is relevant to the client for internal reporting purposes. The first reference period becomes the baseline for assessing progress, benchmarking against other organizations and analysing the impact of engagement with the certification scheme. Therefore, the months chosen for the reference period should not change in subsequent certifications unless there are exceptional circumstances like a merger or acquisition that results in a change to a client’s reporting period, or in the case of a global certification, the alignment of multiple country-entity reference periods.

The client’s pre-certification process involves collecting three types of organizational information: statistics; policies and practices information; and employee responses to a survey. This process provides the data and information needed for certification against the EDGE Standards. As a result of using EDGE Empower®, clients may discover that they need to develop an approved Action Plan to close identified gaps in the organization. Action Plans are designed by clients and are intended to help them continuously improve their performance against the EDGE Standards. Such Action Plans may be a pre-requisite for certification and/or continued certification.

To become certified against the EDGE Standards, a certification audit must take place no longer than 12 months after the specified reference period to which EDGE Empower® has been applied, unless special circumstances allow otherwise. Accredited independent Certification Bodies, approved by the ECF, and their EDGE-trained auditors are commissioned by clients to audit, verify inputs to and certain outputs from EDGE Empower®, and certify a client to one of three certification levels.

A client may be certified for up to two years. The maximum allowable gap between reference periods (therefore, organization data) is 24 months from the end of one reference period to the beginning of another. To ensure continuous, unbroken certification, ECF recommends client organizations begin the recertification process a minimum of six months before the expiry of a valid certificate. The assessment and recertification process begins with the reuse of EDGE Empower® with EDGE Strategy or with one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners.

The last optional but preferable element of the certification scheme involves the certification client displaying the EDGE Certification Seal (i.e., the EDGE Certification mark) that corresponds to the level of certification achieved at country-level and/or as part of a global certification.

The EDGE Standards Framework

The EDGE Standards are essentially a framework of gender and intersectional equity-related data and information, which are grouped, combined, and analysed in a logical way to measure factors and variables that assess gender and intersectional equity in a given client organization. The EDGE Standards are based on the proprietary Gender Equality Assessment Methodology developed by The Gender Equality Project, which was extended to become the Gender and Intersectional Equity Assessment Methodology, and which underpins EDGE Empower®.

Diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplaces, as represented by the indicators and metrics contained within the EDGE Standards, are central to our conceptual framework. The EDGE Standards and the Certification System are built on four pillars that define success in gender and intersectional equity:

  1. Representation at all levels of the organization.
  2. Pay equity.
  3. Effectiveness of policies and practices to ensure equitable career flows in terms of equal pay for equivalent work, recruitment and promotion, leadership development training and mentoring, flexible working, and organizational culture.
  4. Inclusiveness of the culture, as reflected in employees’ ratings in terms of career development opportunities.

Four
pillars
Indicators tracked / scoredExamples of
inputs assessed
1. Representation
  1. Representation Junior Management
  2. Representation Middle Management
  3. Representation Upper Management
  4. Representation Top Management
  5. Proportionate retention
  6. Board composition
  7. Core functions with profit & loss responsibility (Or for non-profits only, core functions with budget responsibility)
Statistics by gender (for EDGE) and by gender and other dimensions of diversity, such as non-binary gender identity and LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, nationality, age, and disability status (for EDGEplus) for each level of responsibility
2. Pay equity
  1. Statistically insignificant unexplained pay gap
Base salaries and pay statistics by gender (for EDGE) and by gender and other dimensions of diversity, such as race/ethnicity and/or nationality (for EDGEplus) and other variables
3. Effectiveness of policies and practices to ensure equitable career flows
  1. Equal pay for equivalent work
  2. Recruitment and promotion
  3. Leadership development, training & mentoring
  4. Flexible working arrangements
  5. Organizational culture
Policy; pay-gap assessments and elimination of identified gaps; communication practices on proactive management of pay equity

Policies; diverse recruitment teams & candidate pools; bias awareness training; transparency; objectives for management levels; succession planning

Policies; access to professional development training, career-critical assignments; mentoring or sponsorship; statistics

Policies; flexible work options; paternity, maternity & parental leave; top leadership as role models for flexible working; childcare support; statistics

Policies; promotion of diversity and inclusion; sexual harassment & discrimination prevention; top leadership commitment; strategic goals; managers’ performance measures; dedicated resources
4. Inclusiveness of culture as reflected in employee perceptions
  1. Equal opportunities in recruitment
  2. Equal opportunities in promotion
  3. Paid fairly compared to others in similar roles
  4. Recommend working (here) to women
  5. Recommend working (here) to men
Employee survey answers
Figure 2: EDGE Standards Framework

While EDGE Empower® and its mandatory use via EDGE Strategy or one of EDGE Strategy’s Licensing Partners are a critical part of the EDGE Certification Scheme, and EDGE Strategy owns the proprietary intellectual property that underpins the software (e.g., the algorithms and coding that form the software architecture), the content of the EDGE Standards is determined through the governance processes of the ECF. Thus, as the EDGE Standards evolve over time, EDGE Empower® will be amended in response by EDGE Strategy, with the relevant software-related intellectual property remaining under the ownership of EDGE Strategy.

EDGE Standards Thresholds

Proportionate Retention for Women from Junior to Top Management level of 60%

The rationale for the Proportionate Retention indicator is rooted in the fact that the proportion of women tends to diminish through the pipeline and with each career level, across industries and across geographies. The Proportionate Retention indicator aims to address this decrease in the share of women from the junior to the top management levels by containing it within a certain range. 

Our fundamental premise is that at the entry level (e.g., Junior Management), ideally there is a 50/50 gender balance, and this proportion is maintained through the different Levels of Responsibility. However, to acknowledge the reality of the decrease in the proportion of women and the increase in the proportion of men moving up the talent pipeline in organizations while ensuring that the share of women doesn’t fall below Substantive Representation of 30% at the Top Management level, we calculated that the pass threshold for Proportionate Retention Indicator requires that 60% or higher of the percentage of women in Junior Management shall be represented in Top Management level.

In other words, the percentage of women in Junior Management divided by the percentage of women in Top Management is equal or higher than 60%. This threshold of the Proportionate Retention indicator allows any organization of any sector, including those with a low percentage of women in Junior Management roles, to progress through the different levels of Certification on their EDGE journey.

Gender Representation – Minimum 30% both genders at all management levels of responsibility (Junior, Middle, Upper, and Top)

As far back as 1990, the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council Resolution 1990/15 called on governments, political parties, trade unions, and professional and other representative groups to adopt a 30% minimum proportion of women in leadership positions, with a view to achieving equal representation. In 1995, at the Fourth Conference of Women, the Beijing Declaration & Platform for Action again called for governments to commit to the minimum 30% target for women in leadership positions and for monitoring progress for achieving a UN target of 50%.

EDGE Certification is about gender balance (50/50) in talent/career pipelines, but this remains a longer-term objective for many organizations around the world and there are countries and/or industries where the composition of the available talent pool would make this objective unrealistic in the short and medium term.

The EDGE Standards recognize that while achieving gender balance is the ultimate goal, a minimum proportion of either gender of 30% serves as a robust threshold for Substantive Representation for all organizational management levels. Furthermore, 30% is backed by research (Kanter, 1977; Dahlerup, 1988 and 2006; Childs & Krook, 2008 and 2013) and is the percentage acknowledged to be the point at which historically underrepresented groups’ voices start to be heard.

REFERENCES

Kanter, RM (1977, 2013) Men and Women of the Corporation. New York, NY: Basic Books. 2nd Edition.

Dahlerup, D (1988) From a small to a large minority: Women in Scandinavian politics. Scandinavian Politics Studies 11: 275-297.

Dahlerup, D (2006) The Story of the Theory of Critical Mass. Politics & Gender, 2 (4): 511-522.

Childs, S. and Krook, ML (2008) Critical Mass Theory and Women’s Political Representation. Political Studies 56: 725-736.

Childs, S. and Krook, ML (2013) Analysing Women’s Substantive Representation: From Critical Mass to Critical Actors. Government and Opposition 44 (2): 125-145.

Gender Representation – Board Composition at least 30% both genders

The EDGE Standards recognize that while achieving gender balance (50/50) in Boardrooms is the ultimate goal, a minimum proportion of either gender of 30% serves as a robust threshold for Substantive Representation for Board Composition.

“30% gender representation on boards is not the end goal, but the threshold at which there is meaningful representation to exercise voices.“ (30% club)

The minimum threshold for Board Composition in the EDGE Standards can be higher in specific jurisdictions, where the legally mandated minimum is higher than the 30% by gender threshold.

Unexplained Gender Pay Gap tolerance threshold of +/-5%

When the EDGE Certified Foundation set out to develop its Standard for Pay Equity in 2009, the only established threshold and trusted benchmark that existed anywhere for the analysis of Unexplained Gender Pay Gaps (UGPG) was that specified by the Swiss Confederation as a condition for public sector procurement with the Confederation. The Swiss Confederation established a tolerance threshold of plus / minus 5% for the results of equal pay analysis aiming to calculate the portion of the gross pay gap which cannot be explained by any other facto than gender. EDGE Certified Foundation decided to align to this same threshold in the EDGE Standards.

This choice made more than a decade ago is now mirrored in the emerging pay equity regulation around the world. For example, in 2023, the EU Directive on pay equity and transparency also established the same tolerance threshold of 5% for this indicator.

Allowing a tolerance threshold of plus / minus 5% does not mean that the EDGE Certified Foundation considers a gender pay discrimination of plus / minus 5% acceptable. It does, however, acknowledge the fact that statistical methods might not be able to fully capture the specificities of the compensation structures and philosophies of organizations around the world and that that any unexplained gender pay gap differences that remain within plus / minus 5%, are below the threshold of materiality of the EDGE Standard for risks associated with gender pay equity in organizations.

In other words, if an organization’s regression analysis results measuring ‘Salary’ (base salary) and ‘Pay’ (base salary plus bonuses and other cash benefits) fall within the plus / minus 5% tolerance threshold, the EDGE Standard for this indicator is met.

Scoring Indicators for Effectiveness of Policies and Practices of 65%

The EDGE Standards look at the overall organizational framework when it comes to ensuring equal pay for equivalent work, equitable recruitment and promotion processes, equitable access to leadership development, training, and mentoring, flexible working options and inclusiveness of the culture. In each one of these areas of analysis, the assessment methodology examines the effectiveness of organizational policies and practices, checking: whether they exist and how they are formulated; whether they are implemented; how well they are known and used by employees; and their impact.

Every organization is different. There are many paths to achieving excellence under the EDGE Standard, and not every organization needs to do exactly the same things. Different industries, different countries and cultures, different public policy and regulatory environments, and different organizational size, structure, or purpose, may all influence how an organization approaches effective management of gender and intersectional equity. Therefore, the EDGE Standards, like other global Voluntary Standards Systems, are flexible enough to recognise it is possible to combine policies and practices in a multitude of ways to achieve a high level of performance against organizational goals relating to gender and intersectional equity. 

Choosing a threshold of 65% for the Scoring Indicators under the Pillar “Effectiveness of Policies & Practices” recognises these differences and potential pathways, and allows organizations, under each of the areas of analysis, to combine perfectly executed policies and practices, partially implemented policies and practices, and to leave out those that have no relevance on their particular organizational context or circumstances. Therefore, by combining the individual elements that are perfect scores, partial or zero scores, at least two-thirds of these elements need to score well to achieve the 65% threshold. 

At the same time, the EDGE Standard also recognizes that even for organizations with already comfortable scores that are being rewarded and recognized as advanced organizations, there is room for progression towards 100% effectiveness score across areas of analysis.

Scoring Indicators for Employee Survey of 50% of both Women and Men, “Agree” or “Strongly Agree”

The EDGE Certification Seal is designed to convey a visible and credible message to the employees of certified organizations, as well as other internal and external stakeholder groups about where an EDGE Certified organization is in their journey towards gender balance and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Therefore, the philosophy of the EDGE Standards is to embed the voice of the employees into the assessment under the pillar of the inclusiveness of the culture and to give it weight to the organization-related indicators.

To measure inclusiveness of the culture and to quantify if the experience of both genders is homogeneous and positive when it comes to career development opportunities, the EDGE Certified Foundation considered that at least 50% of the respondents to the survey of both genders, i.e., at least half the target population, must agree on five key questions that relate to their workplace experience and career development opportunities.

EDGEplus Standards Thresholds

See Scope of EDGEplus Methodology

EDGE (Gender-Binary) Certification Levels

Certification is based on the EDGE Standards. For the EDGE (gender-binary) assessment, three levels of certification are possible, EDGE Assess, EDGE Move, and EDGE Lead, reflecting a client entity’s performance in the specified 12-month reference period.

Figure 3 below outlines the EDGE Certification Seals, corresponding to the three levels of certification, EDGE Assess, EDGE Move, and EDGE Lead (gender-binary) and EDGE Assess & EDGEplus, EDGE Move & EDGEplus, EDGE Lead & EDGEplus (gender and intersectionality).

certification seals for edge and edgeplus
Figure 3: EDGE Certification Seals for EDGE and EDGEplus

The next sub-sections introduce and describe the three EDGE (gender-binary) certification levels in general terms. This general description should not be interpreted as the definitive statement of requirements or the EDGE Standards themselves.

First Level: EDGE Assess

The client is rewarded and recognized for making a public commitment to aspire to a balanced gender representation across the talent pipeline, to proactively manage gender pay equity, to create an effective framework of policies and practices that ensure equitable career flows, and to foster an inclusive workplace culture for both men and women employees.

This means that the client examines the following:

  • Gender representation at different levels of the organization.
  • Existence and level of implementation of policies and practices:
    • Equal pay for equivalent work.
    • Recruitment and promotion.
    • Leadership development training and mentoring.
    • Flexible working.
    • Organizational culture.
  • Ratings of the organization by men and women employees on career development opportunities.

Reporting the results of an EDGE-compliant statistical analysis of the risk of unexplained gender pay gaps is optional at the EDGE Assess level.

Finally, the client also has a written Action Plan, which documents how they will further their commitment to gender equity in the workplace by working to close identified gaps, including implementation milestones, resource requirements, and accountabilities.

Second Level: EDGE Move

The client is rewarded and recognized for achieving certain milestones, necessary to achieve a balanced gender representation across the talent pipeline, proactively manage gender pay equity, create an effective framework of policies and practices that ensure equitable career flows, and foster an inclusive workplace culture for both men and women. The client measures and tracks their milestones in the same way as at the EDGE Assess level, while additionally having:

  • Achieved results and conformed to the EDGE Standards on a combination of some of the outcome indicators related to gender representation and/or pay equity; and some of the ratings from both men and women employees on career development opportunities.
  • Achieved progress in creating an effective framework of policies and practices to ensure equitable career flows, specifically by implementing policies and practices for ensuring equitable pay within their organization.

Reporting the results of an EDGE-compliant statistical analysis of the risk of unexplained gender pay gaps is optional at the EDGE Move level.

The client also has a written Action Plan, which documents how they will make further progress on their commitment to gender equity in the workplace, to achieve even greater impact by working to close identified gaps, including implementation milestones, resource requirements, and accountabilities.

Third Level: EDGE Lead

The client is rewarded and recognized for successfully demonstrating balanced gender representation across the talent pipeline, proactively managing gender pay equity, effectively implementing a framework of policies and practices that ensure equitable career flows, and fostering an inclusive workplace culture, as revealed by high ratings by both men and women about career development opportunities.

The client measures and tracks their milestones in the same way as at the EDGE Assess level, while also having:

  • Achieved outstanding results and conformed to the EDGE Standards in all* the indicators related to the gender representation, statistical analysis of the risk of unexplained gender pay gaps (mandatory), and the ratings from both men and women employees on career development opportunities.
  • Successfully implemented an effective framework of policies and practices that ensures equitable career flows and conforms to the EDGE Standards for all five relevant indicators.

*Only when there is a formal Non-Executive Board at the entity level undergoing certification, is it mandatory for the Board Composition Indicator to be scored to achieve EDGE Lead. In some country-level entities of large private organizations, there may be no formal Non-Executive Board in place.

Reporting the results of an EDGE-compliant statistical analysis of the risk of unexplained gender pay gaps is mandatory at the EDGE Lead level.

EDGEplus Certification – Gender and Intersectionality

EDGEplus Certification (gender and intersectionality) is an add-on to EDGE (gender-binary) Certification, offering organizations the possibility to analyse data and information related to women and men as diversified groups, to deepen their understanding of, and to measure the intersectionality of gender and other aspects of diversity, such as non-binary gender identity and LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, nationality, age, and working with a disability.

Permissible Certification Claim

By taking the EDGEplus approach, an organization is publicly demonstrating their commitment to analysing gender in intersection with other dimensions of diversity.

As no scoring thresholds are yet established for EDGEplus Certification, the Certification Seal that will be received by EDGEplus Certified organizations will display the EDGE (gender-binary) Certification level that has been achieved, with an additional “+” to mark their commitment to assessing gender and intersectional equity in their workplace (see Figure 3 above).

Organizations shall follow the EDGE Certification Seal User Protocols when displaying their EDGEplus Seal and when making claims about their achieved EDGE Certification level.

Alongside their achieved EDGE Certification level, EDGEplus Certified organizations may make the following claim:
“The organization is publicly committed to analysing intersectional issue/s relating to gender equity and [other aspects of diversity] OR [the specific dimensions included in the analysis – non-binary gender identity, LGBTQ+, race/ethnicity, nationality, age, and disability].”

Scope of EDGEplus Methodology

The EDGEplus methodology prescribed by the EDGE Certified Foundation is a process that may be applied as an integral part of the preparation for EDGE Certification. The intention behind EDGEplus is to allow organizations to create a highly personalized evaluation specific to their priorities. The methodology has been designed to put organizations on an accelerated path to progress by focusing only on what is relevant and necessary to assess their current situation.

Given that the field of intersectionality and gender equity is complex and evolving, this methodology does not yet specify scoring thresholds. Organizations shall continue to be certified against the standards and thresholds in EDGE (gender-binary) Certification’s three-tiered certification system for EDGE Assess, EDGE Move or EDGE Lead.

EDGEplus Dimensions

EDGEplus certifying organizations may choose to include in their analysis at least one of the following intersectional dimensions:

  • Gender identity
  • LGBTQ+
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Working with a disability (visible or invisible)
  • Age
  • Nationality

An organization may choose to input intersectional data or information into one, two or all three Sources of Information used in the EDGE Empower® software: Data Tables; Policies and Practices Questionnaire; and/or Employee Survey.

For organizations opting to include intersectional data in the Data Tables, Data Table 1 – Recruitment and Promotion is mandatory.

An organization intending to add intersectional information into the Policies and Practices Questionnaire and/or to include intersectional dimensions to the Employee Survey shall include the additional relevant EDGEplus questions for these Sources of Information – meaning that it is mandatory for the dimension-specific questions to be included in the Policies and Practices Questionnaire and/or the Employee Survey, as relevant.

Organizations wishing to analyse Pay Equity for the selected intersectional dimensions shall find relevant procedures in a supplementary document entitled EDGEplus Unexplained Gender and Intersectional Pay Gap (UGIPG) Analysis Methodology.

Recertification

The EDGE Certification Scheme embraces a philosophy of continuous improvement. Once certified at the EDGE Assess and EDGE Move levels, clients are expected to create a culture of sustained and incremental improvement, designed to reduce and/or eliminate inequalities in the workplace. As such, at all but the top level of certification (EDGE Lead), Action Plans are a feature of certification, and for all levels there are standards that must be met in order to be recertified after two years. Once certified at the EDGE Lead level, clients are expected to maintain a culture of gender equality in the workplace.

Furthermore, certified organizations may choose to deepen the scope of their DE&I analysis as part of their recertification process. Clients who are initially certified at any of the three levels for EDGE (gender-binary) Certification, can opt for the EDGEplus add-on as part of their recertification. Once EDGEplus Certified, client organizations are expected to continue showing commitment to gender and intersectional equity, by continuing their EDGEplus analysis and maintaining their EDGEplus Certification in future recertification cycles.

Key Documents

Figure 4 below outlines the key documents and reference material that together make up the EDGE Certification Scheme. A Master List of all current and expired normative documents and templates is available to applicant and approved Certification Bodies and their auditors on request from the ECF.

key documents 1
Figure 4: Key Scheme Documents

1. Publications Informing these Certification Requirements

The following list of publications includes those that informed the original formulation (Version 1) of the EDGE Certification Requirements and those that were used to inform subsequent revisions of the EDGE Certification Requirements.

IAF MD 11:2013 IAF Mandatory Document for Application of ISO/IEC 17021 for Audits of Integrated Management Systems (IMS) (Version 3)

IAF MD25:2022 Criteria for Evaluation of Conformity Assessment Schemes

IAF MD 10: 2013 Assessment of Certification Body Management of Competence in Accordance with ISO 17021:2011 or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 (Withdrawn by IAF, 2021)

ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Assuring Compliance with Social and Environmental Standards (Version 2.0, 2018)

ISO 17000:2004 / ISO 17000:2020 Conformity assessment – Vocabulary and general principles

ISO 17011:2004 / ISO/IEC 17011:2017 Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies

ISO 17021:2011 / ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies providing audit and certification of management systems

ISO 17022:2012 Conformity assessment – Requirements and recommendations for content of a third-party audit report on management systems (Withdrawn by ISO, 2015)

ISO/IEC 17065:2012 Conformity assessment – Requirements for bodies certifying products, processes and services

Marine Stewardship Council Certification Process and Guidance, Version 2.3, 26 October 2022

Marine Stewardship Council Certification Requirements, Version 1.3, 14 January 2013 (Superseded by v2.3 above).

Responsible Jewellery Council Certification Handbook, Version 2, 2009

UTZ Certification Protocol, Version 3.0, September 2012

2. Scope of Certification Requirements

2.1.
These Certification Requirements set out the activities that all Certification Bodies shall undertake when carrying out certification audits and certification decisions for clients that wish to make the claim that their organization’s policies, practices, and outcomes, in relation to gender and intersectional equity, meet one of the three certification levels of the EDGE Standards.
2.2.
The term “shall” is used in this document to indicate mandatory requirements, provisions or procedures.

3. Scope of Certification

3.1.
There are a number of possible scopes of certification set out in Clauses 3.2 and 3.3.
3.2.
Certification clients, either for-profit or non-profit entities, usually comprise a single legal entity. This may include a single business unit or a unique brand within a country, or all the business units or brands operating under a parent entity in the same country.
3.2.1.
When auditing an organization that exists in multiple sites in a country and which share a common internal management system and implement the same policies and procedures in relation to employees and governance, the client is usually the headquarters entity.
3.2.2.
When the client entity meets the scope specified in Clause 3.2.1 above, certification is granted to a client as a whole, within a single country, covering all relevant business units or brands and sites operating under the parent entity.
3.2.3.
International organizations, including but not limited to inter-governmental organizations/multi-lateral organizations, international non-governmental organizations, international federations or associations, or international financial institutions, which operate in different countries, may be considered single entities for the purposes of certification provided all employees, regardless of country, are contracted to a centralized organization, and there are shared management and governance systems, and shared policies and practices across all countries of operation. Thus, effectively operating like a single jurisdiction regardless of individual countries of operation.
3.2.3.1.
Organizations that meet Clause 3.2.3 above may be granted a certificate that covers their entire organization, without the need to conduct on-site audits of individual country operations.
3.2.3.2.
Organizations that meet Clause 3.2.3 above may choose to seek certification for a headquarters entity separately from the wider (e.g., global) organization, provided the headquarters entity has submitted its data and information to the EDGE Empower® software as a separate entity to the wider/global organization and the inputs and outputs have been verified through a certification audit.
3.2.3.3.
International organizations, such as inter-governmental organizations/multi-lateral organizations, international non-governmental organizations, international federations or associations or international financial institutions, which operate in different countries under a shared management and governance system and all employees, regardless of country, are contracted to a centralized organization, but under different national employment laws and jurisdictions, shall be assessed, in terms of eligibility and/or scope of certification, on a case-by-case basis by the ECF.
3.3.
Certification clients may qualify for global certification providing the client is part of a global organization, e.g., a ‘global company’, a ‘global business unit’ of a company, or a ‘global brand’ as defined in Chapter 4, where the country-level entities, as set out in Clause 3.2, have first been or are in the process of being assessed and certified to the EDGE Standards, and the verifiable proportion of the global workforce employed by assessed and certified or soon-to-be certified entities is equal to or greater than 80% of the total global workforce.
3.3.1.
Ideally, country-level entities should have 200 or more employees. The only circumstance where small-sized organizations (e.g., country-level entities with fewer than 100 employees) may be considered eligible for certification is when they are part of a global certification group. In such cases, the absolute minimum number of employees for any country-level entity within a global certification group is 30 or more.
3.3.2.
Ideally, country-level entities should align their twelve-month period of reference for assessment and certification purposes.
3.4.

When the client entity meets the requirements specified in Clauses 3.2 and 3.3 above, global certification may be granted at the certification level that is shared by all the country-level entities.

  1. For example, assuming the certification clients are a part of a global corporate entity, if certification clients from the US and India are certified as EDGE Lead, and the certification client from Switzerland is certified as EDGE Assess, the global certification level shall be EDGE Assess.
  2. Similarly, if the certification client from Switzerland is certified as EDGE Lead, and the certification clients from the US and India are certified as EDGE Move, the global certification level shall be EDGE Move.
3.5.
The 80% threshold stipulated in Clause 3.3. shall apply to both EDGE (gender-binary) and EDGEplus (gender and intersectionality) Certifications, meaning that in order to become EDGEplus certified, 80% of the total global workforce of the client organization undergoing global (re)certification will have first been or are in the process of being assessed and certified to the EDGEplus Standard.
3.6.
If global certification is awarded, country-level entities may publicly declare and/or display global certification claims (subject to appropriate approval and/or licensing) but shall also be required to publicly declare and display the country-level certification level using the relevant licensed EDGE or EDGEplus seal (label).
3.7.
Organizations engaged in the armament and firearms, tobacco, gambling, and adult entertainment industries are excluded from EDGE Certification.

4. Definitions

Visit our Glossary for the full list of definitions

5. Roles and Responsibilities

The key roles and responsibilities of the main stakeholders in the certification process include, but are not limited to:

5.1. EDGE Certified Foundation (ECF)

5.1.1.
Owner of the certification scheme. Owner of the Gender and Intersectional Equity Assessment Methodology; also referred to as the EDGE Standards. Sets and periodically reviews the EDGE Standards. Specifies the EDGE Certification Requirements. Approves and enters into Agreements of Cooperation with accredited Certification Bodies. Trains auditors from accredited and EDGE-approved Certification Bodies. Collects fees from Certification Bodies for relevant approval, training, and certification audit oversight processes. Monitors Certification Body and auditor performance. Licenses and collects fees for using EDGE Seals (labels) and trademarks. Specifies guidelines to display or make claims about EDGE Certification. Monitors label or trademark use and relevant claims by others. Periodically reviews, analyses, and evaluates the outcomes and impacts of certification processes. Pursues the objectives of the ECF. Conducts research on the topics of gender equality and gender and intersectional equity.

5.2. EDGE Strategy

5.2.1.
Owner and licence-granter of proprietary intellectual property known as EDGE Empower®. Brings EDGE Empower® to the market. Pays royalties to EDGE Certified Foundation for the use of the Gender and Intersectional Equity Assessment Methodology.

5.3. EDGE Empower®

5.3.1.
Integrated Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) software comprising four components: EDGE Insights®, EDGE Certification®, EDGE Knowledge® and EDGE Connections®. EDGE Strategy may market and introduce EDGE Certification and EDGE Empower® to potential certification clients.

5.4. EDGE Strategy Licensing Partners

5.4.1.
Licensed to market, use, and apply EDGE Empower® with potential certification clients and may administer the EDGE Empower® software or component parts, such as pay equity analysis or employee survey in client organizations. Pay licensing and other fees to EDGE Strategy as per Licensing Partnership agreement or contract. Provide EDGE Strategy with data and information on the client organizations with whom they have engaged or entered into contracts for EDGE assessment, benchmarking, and/or certification, including business development pipelines for certification audit planning purposes.

5.5. Accreditation bodies

5.5.1.
Accredit and monitor the performance of Certification Bodies and the management of the competence of their auditors in accordance with the provisions of ISO/IEC ISO 17000:2020 or ISO/IEC 17011:2017 and/or IAF MD 11:2013.

5.6. Accredited and Approved Certification Bodies

5.6.1.
Hold valid accreditation, scope, and approval to perform audit and certification processes against the EDGE Standards and EDGE Certification Requirements. Ensure auditors and authorized sub-contractors are trained by ECF. Ensure competent auditors or sub-contractors conduct high quality, consistent audits. Make impartial certification and recertification decisions. Determine non-conformances against the EDGE Standards, validate corrective actions and assess appropriateness of relevant client Action Plans designed to close gender gaps in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements. Ensure Audit Reports conform to requirements. Grant certificates to certification clients for the appropriate EDGE Certification level. Monitor and report to ECF certification client compliance with licences to make certification claims or use EDGE labels or trademarks. Manage certification client relationships in respect to audit and certification processes against the EDGE Standards and EDGE Certification Requirements. Respond to appeals and complaints from clients.

5.7. Auditors

5.7.1.
Attend ECF auditor training. Via the approved Certification Body EDGE Certification Scheme manager, obtain, and maintain approval from ECF as an approved auditor. Conduct high quality, consistent audits against the EDGE Standards, in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements. Complete Audit Reports using EDGE templates. Report findings and make recommendations to Certification Bodies to enable certification and recertification decisions to be made.

5.8. The Certification Client

5.8.1
Uses the EDGE Empower® software, with EDGE Strategy or with a Licensing Partner. If relevant, develop an Action Plan before the certification audit. Prepare for certification by providing the Certification Body with relevant information before scheduled audit/s. Ensure auditors have access to people, site/s, data, documents, and any other information relevant to the certification audit that may be agreed in a certification audit plan and any associated certification contract. Adequately fund and implement relevant Action Plan/s. Manage the process and take responsibility for resolving any inconsistencies (non-conformances) determined by the auditor/s, within agreed timeframes. ECF recommends that the certification client appoint one employee or a group of employees to represent the organization during the certification process. This person or group should be the principal point of contact for the Certification Body and its auditor/s and should act as a facilitator/coordinator of the certification process. This person or group should have had a significant role in the pre-certification process and be knowledgeable about the use and data/information content of EDGE Empower®.

6. Findings and Objective Evidence

6.1.
Performance ratings and findings by Certification Bodies and their auditors must be based upon relevant objective evidence. Objective evidence is defined as verifiable information, records, observations, and/or statements of fact and may be quantitative or qualitative. Accredited and approved Certification Bodies and their auditors use objective evidence to demonstrate that the provisions of the EDGE Standards have been met.
6.2.
Objective evidence is typically based upon examination of documents or records, interviews, observation of activities or other means that are within the scope of the certification audit and specifically relevant to the particular requirement being verified.
6.3.
The process of collecting objective evidence can involve sampling documents and/or records. Certification Bodies and their auditors must consider sampling methods and sample sizes. The size of a given sample in relation to a total population, or in the context of a specific business model (e.g., multiple, widely distributed business units) will influence the confidence in assessment results. Sampling should be carried out to access just enough evidence to verify that a client meets the EDGE Standards.
6.4.

Objective evidence shall be all of the following:

  • Relevant to the 12-month reference period that is the subject of the certification audit.
  • Relevant to what is being verified.
  • Traceable.
  • Clear and unambiguous.
6.5.

Examples of objective evidence include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizational databases showing employee details and relevant information.
  • Policies, plans, information, and guidance documents used and distributed by the client, including standardized or tailored training materials.
  • Intranet and/or other internal communications portals, including means accessed by and permissions granted to client employees.
  • Printed and electronic reports, documents, internal and external communications, and/or advertising materials, including videos, podcasts, websites that can be verifiably linked to the relevant reference period.
  • Registers, lists, or other systems and records showing details relevant to the application and execution of policies and practices.
  • Emails, hard-copy mails, slide presentations.
  • Case-specific examples relevant to the application and execution of policies and practices, sampled in accordance with the level of performance required by the EDGE Standards.
6.6.
A supplementary guidance document aimed primarily at EDGE Certification clients, but also useful for auditors, outlines the typical evidence that may be sought by Certification Bodies and their auditors against the inputs to the EDGE Empower® software. This document is part of the EDGE Documentation System.

7. Requirements for Accreditation and Approval

7.1. Approval Process

7.1.1.
Accredited Certification Bodies shall apply to ECF for approval to conduct audits against the EDGE Standards and to use the EDGE Certification Requirements to certify client organizations. The approval process requires Certification Bodies to be accredited and for auditors to be trained in the specifics of the EDGE Certification Requirements.

7.2. Approval Fees

7.2.1.
Certification Bodies shall pay approval fees that are specified by ECF.

7.3. Approval Duration

7.3.1.
Approval may be granted to Certification Bodies for up to three years, after which time a new approval shall be sought. Certification Body re-approval shall be determined after assessment by ECF of the performance of the Certification Body and its auditors in relation to their conformance with all EDGE Certification Requirements and related activities and to ensure continued compliance with Clauses 7.4 to 7.11 of these Certification Requirements.

7.4. Re-approval Process

7.4.1.
Certification Bodies shall pay re-approval fees that are specified by ECF.

7.5. Certification Body Accreditation Requirements

7.5.1.
Certification Bodies shall be approved by ECF before starting to market or sell certification services in relation to the EDGE Certification Scheme.
7.5.2.

To qualify for approval from ECF to conduct audits against the EDGE Standards and to use the EDGE Certification Requirements, Certification Bodies shall:

  1. Demonstrate proof of a valid accreditation certificate granted by an accreditation body that is either a proven member of the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) or a full ISEAL Alliance Member and conducts its accreditation activities in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011:2004 or ISO/IEC 17011:2017.
  2. Demonstrate a valid ISO/IEC 17021:2011 or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 accreditation with the scope for auditing and certifying management systems or demonstrate equivalence under ISO/IEC 17065: 2012.
  3. Submit organization charts of Certification Body headquarters and local offices, their internal structures, and any authorized sub-contractors, including the positions and/or names of any persons or committees established to make certification decisions in accordance with Clause 9.1.14 of ISO/IEC 17021: 2011(E) or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015 (or equivalent).
  4. Provide a list of countries where the Certification Body will offer EDGE Certification, including the contact information for relevant local Certification Body or sub-contractor offices and personnel for inclusion in a publicly available list of EDGE approved Certification Bodies.
7.5.3.

Certification Bodies may sub-contract auditing functions to other inspection bodies or freelance auditors. ECF considers any Clauses that refer to requirements for Certification Bodies shall also apply to sub-contractors and/or freelance auditors, as part of the approved Certification Body. Specifically, however, the approved Certification Body shall:

  1. Ensure their use of sub-contractors complies with Clause 7.5 of ISO/IEC 17021:2011(E) or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015.
  2. Ensure sub-contractors are accredited to the scope specified in Clause 7.5.2 above and their auditors and/or freelance auditors meet the requirements of Clause 7.6 below.
  3. Control and provide oversight of the sub-contractor, including having a written contract between the Certification Body and sub-contractor or freelance auditor.
  4. Take responsibility for all outputs and outcomes of EDGE-related activities conducted by sub-contractors and their auditors, or freelance auditors.

7.6. Auditor Requirements

7.6.1.

To qualify for approval from ECF for auditors, or for authorized sub-contractors, to perform audit and certification functions using the EDGE Certification Requirements, Certification Bodies shall:

  1. Demonstrate that all personnel acting on its behalf who are or will be involved in EDGE-related audits and/or are performing relevant certification functions have met required competence criteria in accordance with the provisions of ISO 17021:2011 or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015.
  2. Pay for approved ECF training for all auditors or authorized sub-contractors, according to the fees set by ECF.
  3. Ensure all auditors and authorized sub-contractors, including freelance auditors attend and successfully complete all prescribed ECF training, including any training designed to upgrade knowledge and skills following reviews and/or changes to the EDGE Standards and/or EDGE Certification Requirements.
  4. Ensure all auditors undertake a minimum of three audits within each 24-month period.
  5. Ensure all new auditors shadow an audit of an experienced auditor or watch a recorded audit before conducting an audit on their own.
  6. Ensure all new auditors perform one audit that is shadowed by an experienced auditor or EDGE scheme manager. This training requirement shall be completed and logged during the first two-year period of activity of the new auditor.

7.7. Approval Process

7.7.1.
Certification Bodies shall apply for approval for the Certification Body and auditors using the application form that is available upon email request from ECF.
7.7.2.
Certification Bodies shall email the completed application form and the required documentation for approval to ECF here: https://www.edge-cert.org/contacts/
7.7.3.
Certification Bodies shall pay ECF approval fees that are listed in the Approval Fee Schedule via the means set out on the ECF website https://www.edge-cert.org/certifications/third-party-certification-system/.
7.7.4.
If all fees have been paid, required documents have been received and verified by ECF and relevant requirements have been met, an agreement of cooperation shall be sent to the Certification Body by ECF for signature by the Certification Body and return to ECF.
7.7.5.
Once Clause 7.7.4 has been met, ECF will issue a written approval statement to the Certification Body and list it in the ECF List of Approved Certification Bodies on the ECF website.

7.8. Communication with EDGE Certified Foundation

7.8.1.

The Certification Body shall appoint a scheme manager and inform ECF in writing of the scheme manager’s name and contact details.

  1. These details shall be kept up to date by the Certification Body by communicating any changes to ECF immediately.
7.8.2.
The scheme manager may be an EDGE approved auditor. If the scheme manager is not an EDGE approved auditor, the scheme manager shall also be required to complete the ECF training. Proof of compliance with this requirement shall be provided to ECF.
7.8.3.

The scheme manager shall:

  1. Be responsible for the proper management of EDGE Certification Scheme-related activities and performance by the Certification Body, any sub-contractors, and all EDGE approved auditors, employed by the Certification Body, sub-contractors or freelance.
  2. Provide relevant certification documents to ECF in accordance with the EDGE Certification Requirements.
  3. Keep all ECF-related documentation up to date.
  4. Coordinate all requested reporting about the performance of functions by the Certification Body in relation to the EDGE Certification Scheme.
7.8.4.
Communication with ECF about certification decisions for individual clients shall be the responsibility of the scheme manager appointed by the Certification Body.
7.8.5.
The official language of the EDGE Certification Scheme is English.
7.8.6.
Certification Bodies shall note that ECF may request that all reports and annexes to reports be translated into English.
7.8.7.
Certification Bodies shall, in its audit plans and contracts with relevant clients, allow for the time and cost of translations of Audit Reports and annexes to reports that may be required.
7.8.8.
ECF shall not be liable for the cost of translations of any auditor reports or annexes to reports that may be required.

7.9. Oversight of Certification Bodies by EDGE Certified Foundation

7.9.1.
ECF reserves the right to monitor the performance of approved Certification Bodies, their subcontractors and any and all auditors in relation to the EDGE Certification Scheme.
7.9.2.
Monitoring of Certification Body performance may be conducted by ECF or a party sub-contracted to ECF.
7.9.3.

During ongoing monitoring of performance, routine oversight, reaccreditation or re-approval processes of an approved Certification Body, ECF may raise non-conformities and assign grades to them. Grades of non-conformity are:

  1. Minor non-conformity – the non-conformity has no serious adverse effect on the validity of the Certification Body’s or auditors’ activity or the competence of the organization and shall not seriously threaten the credibility of the EDGE Certification Scheme. Examples may include:

    1. Infrequent and isolated occurrence of incorrect results.
    2. Infrequent and isolated occurrence of insufficient audit records.
    3. Isolated discrepancies of the Certification Body’s quality control system in relation to the EDGE Certification Scheme.
  2. Significant non-conformity – the non-conformity has a serious or adverse effect on the validity of the results of a certification audit, or the competence of the Certification Body or its auditors, or a deliberate violation of the EDGE Certification Requirements. Examples may include:

    1. Lack of commitment of the Certification Body to quality or compliance with EDGE Certification Scheme requirements and the existence of doubt on the integrity and impartiality of the organization or its auditors.
    2. The existence of a serious doubt about the competence of the Certification Body and/or its auditors and the validity of their results, as indicated by a series of related or repeated minor non-conformities.
    3. Persistence of minor non-conformities for an extended period of time and without a plausible explanation.
  3. Critical non-conformity – one or a series of non-conformities that threaten the credibility and integrity of the EDGE Certification Scheme itself. Examples may include:

    1. Gross lack of competence arising from lack of competent staff for critical activities.
    2. Lack of critical equipment and resources to perform required tasks.
    3. Total breakdown of record or documentation system.
      iv. Lack of effective quality assurance procedures.
7.9.4.
Non-conformities are to be formally notified and recorded by the ECF, using the official ‘EDGE Certified Foundation – Non-Conformity Template for Certification Bodies’, and logging the description, cause, proposed corrective measures, and timeframe for their potential implementation, as agreed by both parties.
7.9.5.
Upon receipt of written notification of non-conformity from ECF, the Certification Body shall investigate the issue/s and discuss with ECF and submit in writing its proposed remedial actions, within agreed time limits.
7.9.6.
The Certification Body may have to inform relevant client organizations about any issued reports, results and/or certificates found to be doubtful in the light of the findings of an oversight investigation by the Certification Body or ECF.
7.9.7.
The Certification Body may provide written supporting evidence disputing the findings of an oversight investigation by ECF.
7.9.8.
ECF reserves the right to conduct site visits at Certification Body offices, examine Certification Body records, attend audits performed by Certification Body auditors, and to verify and crosscheck the evidence base for certification decisions.

7.10. Records of Applicants and Clients

7.10.1.
The Certification Body shall maintain records on the audit and other EDGE Certification Scheme-related activities, including all organizations that submitted applications, and all organizations audited, certified, or with certification suspended or withdrawn.
7.10.2.
Records on such clients shall be kept in accordance with Clause 9.9 of ISO/IEC 17021:2011(E) or ISO/IEC 17021-1:2015.

7.11. Records of Appeals and Complaints

7.11.1.
The Certification Body shall maintain records on all appeals and complaints received by any persons or organizations about the Certification Body’s EDGE Certification Scheme-related activities, findings, and/or decisions, including the nature of all appeals and/or complaints, the substance of such appeals and/or complaints, and the outcomes of such appeals and/or complaints.
7.11.2.
The Certification Body shall, upon request, provide ECF with the information described in Clause 7.11.1.

7.12. Suspension or Withdrawal of Approval by EDGE Certified Foundation

7.12.1.
ECF reserves the right to sanction a Certification Body on evidence of improper procedure or behaviour, in accordance with the provisions of the EDGE Certification Requirements and the agreement of cooperation signed between the EDGE approved Certification Body and the ECF.
7.12.2.

ECF may decide to suspend or withdraw a Certification Body’s approval or an auditor’s approval if the:

  1. Certification Body or auditor no longer complies with approval requirements, including all training requirements specified by ECF.
  2. The Certification Body’s performance or the performance of its auditors has significant or critical non-conformities with the EDGE Certification Requirements raised against it, as stipulated in clause 7.9.3 above.
  3. One of the Certification Body’s auditors or staff members has been found to be involved in a corruption case and/or has accepted bribes.
7.12.3.
ECF shall inform the Certification Body in writing of its decision, including the rationale.