The synergies and trade-offs between the various dimensions of sustainable development are attracting a rising scholarly attention. Departing from the scholarly debate, this article focuses on internal relationships within social sustainability. Our key claim is that it is difficult to strengthen substantive social sustainability goals unless there are key elements of social sustainability contained in the very procedures intended to work toward sustainability. Our analysis, informed by an organizing perspective, is based on a set of case studies on multi-stakeholder transnational sustainability projects (sustainability standards). This article explores six challenges related to the achievement of such procedures that can facilitate substantive social sustainability. Three of these concern the formulation of standards and policies, and three the implementation of standards and policies. To achieve substantive social sustainability procedures must be set in motion with abilities to take hold of people's concerns, frames, resources, as well as existing relevant institutions and infrastructures.