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.