December 12, 2018
Today, KnowTheChain released its final benchmark of 2018, covering the apparel and footwear sector, which remains at high risk of forced labor despite decades of stakeholder and public scrutiny. The benchmark finds that 28 of 43 companies score below 50/100 in addressing the risk of forced labor in supply chains, and 10 companies score below 10/100.
This benchmark is KnowTheChain’s second for the apparel and footwear industry. The Human Thread finds this assessment very helpful in evaluating the supply chain in apparel and footwear. We wrote about the 2016 assessment here. While some companies have improved their scores since the first benchmark in 2016, the industry overall needs to do much more in order to protect vulnerable workers at all levels of supply chains.
“Workers in the apparel and footwear sector are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, with women and migrant workers making up the majority of the labor force,” said Kilian Moote,project director for KnowTheChain. “Companies and their investors have a responsibility to ensure workers are treated fairly and humanely.”
Notably, Adidas sits atop the benchmark with a score of 92 out of 100 possible points, the highest seen yet in any of KnowTheChain’s benchmark reports, and the company remains in the top spot from 2016. Lululemon (89/100) secured second place overtaking Gap Inc. (75/100) since 2016.
The lowest scoring companies include several consumer-facing companies, such as Prada (5/100), Skechers (7/100) and Foot Locker (12/100). Other low-scoring companies are large apparel suppliers, including Eclat Textile (1/100) and Pou Chen Corporation (6/100) but they have the same responsibility to their workers, and are held to the same standard.
“Nobody should have to pay to have a job, yet responsible recruitment efforts remains the least developed area of work for the industry,” said Moote. “More than half the companies we looked at had no policy to stop employers from keeping workers’ passports, and only four could show that they had reimbursed workers for recruitment fees.”
The report provides good practice examples and recommendations for companies. In addition, it evaluates corporate commitments and compliance with relevant regulations such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and provides considerations for investor action.
The KnowTheChain Investor Statement is supported by over 100 investors with over USD 3.5 trillion assets under management, including Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment (The Human Thread is a a project of SGI) and numerous of its members.
Read the full 2018 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark Report.
January 01, 2018
Statement endorsed by 147 investors representing $3.7 trillion appeals to global brands to recommit to three-year extension to fulfill Accord’s mandate to remediate fire and safety violations in apparel sector.
Members of the Bangladesh Investor Initiative issued a statement today calling on companies sourcing from the Bangladesh apparel sector to renew their commitment to protect worker health and safety by endorsing the three-year extension of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh (Accord).
The investors, including Seventh Generation Interfaith Coalition for Responsible Investment and its members, say additional time is needed to complete the remediation plans and worker training indicated by audits at the over 1,600 factories covered by the Accord. The statement will accompany letters being sent to the 160 companies that have not yet become signatories to the three-year extension of the Accord, urging them to participate.
The investors are part of the Bangladesh Investor Initiative organized by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility to press brands and retailers sourcing in Bangladesh to join the Accord and remediate human rights risks in their supply chains. The statement was endorsed by 147 institutional investors that collectively represent $3.7 trillion in managed assets.
Said Henrike Kulmann of Allianz Global Investors GmbH, “The new agreement between global trade unions and companies ensures that the industry continues to remediate safety issues found in garment factories and build effective worker safety committees. They are an important component to mitigating risks to workers and supply chain disruption as well as reputational risks to global brands sourcing in Bangladesh. We call on all companies sourcing from Bangladesh to become Accord signatories to mitigate these serious human rights and business risks.”
For the 1,600 factories have been inspected under the Accord, 82 percent of the identified safety issues have been fixed, the majority of them electrical. “Investors have been particularly pleased to see that, in addition to fixing specific problems, the Accord has worked to address the systemic issues that led to disasters like Rana Plaza,” said Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management, “It is critical to ensure that future safety problems are detected before they become life-threatening events. The detailed comprehensive work achieved by the Accord is a positive signal to investors that safety risks are being carefully and sustainably managed.”
The investor statement recommends brands undertake the following:
“To date, only 60 of the 220 signatories of the Accord have signed the new agreement to extend the program until May 2021,” stated David Schilling, senior program director of ICCR. “While much has been achieved in making garment factories in Bangladesh safer, there is more to be done, including the establishment of worker safety committees in each factory. The success of the Accord to date is built on the unprecedented collective action of brands and trade unions. Continued solidarity is needed to finish the job and prevent hard-earned gains from disappearing.”
June 06, 2017
We know that zero transparency results in zero accountability in supply chains. Dispersed global supplies chains, without transparency, facilitates passing the buck on the human rights and worker safety.
Fashion Revolution, an organization born, like The Human Thread, after the Rana Plaza disaster, is doing great work in popularizing concern about human rights and worker safety in the garment industry. Recently, Fashion Revolution released its “Fashion Transparency Index 2017,” which reviews and ranks 100 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact. This tool is a useful assessment of how various brands are doing.
You can view the document here.
April 04, 2017
One of the regular questions we hear at The Human Thread is: “What can I do to buy better?” Generally, people are looking for a short and simple answer like “Don’t buy from this store, but buy from here” or “Don’t buy from this country, but buy from here” or “Use this handy guide” or “Buy only from second-hand shops.” Frankly, ethical purchasing is hard work, and there are no easy solutions.
Nonetheless, there are helpful tools. On this website, we occasionally share scorecards (like The Truth Behind the Barcode: Apparel Industry Trends) and fair trade guides for Milwaukee and Chicago. We share global evaluation’s like Know the Chain’s Apparel & Footwear Benchmark Findings Report. These guides, if the methodology was rigorous were valid during the research, but the passing of time naturally makes the data less accurate. We love Catholic Relief Services’ resource for Ethical Trade. (We have written more about it here.) Project Just has lots of great resources, including “Five questions to figure out which brands are legit.” Smart phones now have apps that help with ethical purchasing, like Good on You and Not My Style. If updated regularly, a cell phone app may provide more current data.
We’d love to hear from our readers about what you use to help guide your purchases. Feel free to post on the the thread in our Facebook page here: