3D Business

About the CO Leadership Awards

The CO Leadership Awards celebrate ambition for, and commitment to, great business practices that transform lives - and solve environmental challenges. This, for CO, is leadership. It is happening everywhere, it is already transforming our industry - and it is inspirational.

Header image: CO Leadership Award winner Outland Denim

The CO Leadership awards are open to all businesses operating in the fashion industry - in any capacity, regardless of size or location. The awards put the spotlight on businesses with great products or services - that maximise benefits to people and minimise the impact on the environment.

There are two award categories - Leadership Awards, which reward leadership in sustainable fashion business, and the CO10, which puts the spotlight on 10 businesses at the forefront of best practice across the fashion sector. The judging process takes into account input from an expert judging panel as well as votes from the global CO community. 

Winners gain recognition and a higher search ranking on CO - increasing their profile to buyers, influencers, and press. CO has over 50,000 members, including representatives from leading brands and retailers such as Farfetch, Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, ASOS, Kering, H&M, Nike and Marks and Spencer, alongside thousands of SMEs. 

Our goals for the awards are aligned with the mission of Common Objective. We want to support and incentivise any business, anywhere, to operate more sustainably. And we want to put the spotlight on best practice, inspiring and motivating others to follow suit.

Read more about the awards, including criteria, how to apply, and the judging process. 

Applying for an award

The 2022 Leadership Awards are now closed. Applications for the 2023 awards will open in October 2022, and winners will be announced in Q1 2023. Upgrade to the CO Leader package to receive support to achieve the leadership standard prior to that date.

2022 Award winners

98 businesses were awarded CO Leadership status in 2022, boosting their rankings and profile on the CO site, with a further 32 shortlisted for the prestigious CO10: ten businesses at the forefront of best practice. 

2022 Leadership Award Winners

Have your say in the final CO10 - cast your vote

Read what makes a winner

Why the fashion industry needs bold leadership

John Kenneth Galbraith defined great leadership as "The willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time”  The major anxiety of our time is climate change, driven by our global economic system, which is at odds with the well-being of our planet. For our economy to thrive, we need more and more people to buy more and more stuff. 

The impact of this unchecked production is already taking our global environment (and the communities who depend upon it) to a breaking point. We need bold leadership, that embraces innovation, to solve this. We need the greatest creative minds to be tackling the roots of the major anxiety of our time - not just its symptoms. 

The fashion industry brings together some of the most brilliant creative minds in the world. The goal of the CO Leadership Awards is to harness that creativity and direct it at solving the greatest challenges of our time. 

Why leadership is urgent

COP26 brought to the fore the urgency with which the fashion industry now needs to act on climate change. According to McKinsey, under the current trajectory, the fashion industry will overshoot the GHG emissions needed to achieve a 1.5º C global warming pathway by over 1 billion metric tons.

Achieving this pathway is considered essential to avoid the extreme and irreversible effects of climate change. To do so, a wholesale shift is needed in the way fashion business is done.  

When it comes to pollution - 83 percent of all water is now polluted by plastic microfibres, and this is set to increase, alongside exponential growth in synthetic fibre production. Fashion business as usual has resulted in everyone, everywhere, eating and drinking plastic, with unknown impact on public health.  

When it comes to the people behind the product, Covid-19 has laid bare the inequities within our global fashion system. Due to the coronavirus crisis, many major fashion brands reneged on contracts that they'd signed with garment factories in Asia. These cancelled, paused, or delayed orders, worth over $3 billion, affected countless workers (mainly female, many with children to feed) in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan, Cambodia, and Burma. (Treehugger. 04.2020)

“More than half of Bangladeshi clothing suppliers have had the bulk of their in-process or completed orders cancelled... and more than half of factories had to shut operations as a result. When orders were cancelled, more than 70% of buyers globally refused to pay for the raw materials already purchased." (Bloomberg 04.2020)" 

We urgently need to change the way we do business. 

Fashion business in 3D

The fashion businesses of the future will be the ones that operate successfully in three dimensions: the commercial, the environmental and the social.

The concept of 3D business embraces the commercial, profit-driven dimension that is fundamental to the impact of an enterprise. It also places equal weight on two other dimensions that are fundamental to the success of our global society - people and planet.

At CO, we measure and define business success in 3D. We believe that the fashion businesses of the future will operate successfully and with equal rigour across all three dimensions. The CO Leadership awards reward a 3D approach to business practices. 

Read more about Business in 3D

Read more about the CO awards, including criteria, how to apply, and judging process. 

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Tamsin Lejeune

CEO & Founder at Common Objective