“The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry” report

Publishing supply chain information builds the trust of workers, consumers, labor advocates, and investors, and sends a strong message that the apparel company does not fear held accountable when labor rights abuses are found in its supply chain. It makes a company’s assertion that it is concerned about labor practices in its supplier factories more credible.

Supply chain transparency in garment industry

Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry make it possible to determine whether a brand has sufficient leverage or influence in a particular factory or country to achieve remediation of worker right abuses.

The Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013 killed over 1,000 garment workers and injured more than 2,000. In year before the collapse, two factory fires –one in Pakistan’s Ali enterprises factory and another in Bangladesh’s Tazreen Fashions factory – killed more than 350 workers and left many others with serious disabilities. These were the deadliest garment factory fires in nearly a century.

Until these tragedies occurred, virtually no public information was available concerning the apparel companies that were sourcing from the factories involved. Ultimately apparel companies can do far more than implement the Pledge to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains. This is one important step in a holistic effort to improve corporate accountability in the garment industry.

By publishing factory names, street addresses, and other important information, global apparel companies allow workers and labor and human rights or other abuses in their supplier factories.

An apparel company that does not publish its supplier factory information contributes to possible delays in workers or other stakeholders being able to access the company’s complaint mechanisms or other remedies.

Disclosing names, addresses, and other relevant information about supplier factories help make it possible to determine whether a brand has sufficient leverage or influence in a particular factory or country to achieve remediation of worker right abuses.

The benefits of the Pledge:

  • Help check unauthorized subcontracting, in which factories that contract with apparel companies meet production demands by farming out some of the work, often to smaller, less regulated factories where labor rights abuses are common.
  • Help apparel companies avoid reputational harm.
  • Would reduce the risk that they could be wrongly associated with abusive conditions in factories with which they ling before cut business ties.
  • It is difficult for companies to continually identify persistent labor rights problems in specific supplier factories, to detect unauthorized subcontracting, and to regularly verify progress toward corrective action if they limit their resources of information to purely business-led human rights due diligence procedures. These include inspections and labor compliance audits by apparel companies’ own social compliance staff and third- party monitors engaged by them.

Factory disclosure makes it possible for apparel companies to receive credible information from workers and worker rights advocates between periodic factory audits.

Key pointers for publishing supplier factory information:

  • Easy access
  • Clarity
  • Regular updates

Already disclose supplier factory information

No commitment to make their factory list public

Failed to respond to coalition’s call for transparency

Brands that do both: Publish supplier information and participate in other initiatives

  • Adidas
  • C&A
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Disney
  • Esprit
  • H&M
  • Levi’s
  • Nike
  • Patagonia
  • Puma
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • DICK’S
  • Sporting Goods
  • Foot Locker
  • The Children’s Place
  • Walmart
  • Canadian Tire
  • Desigual
  • Kik
  • Hugo Boss
  • Carrefour
  • Morrison’s
  • Primark
  • Sainsbury’s
  • Armani
  • Carter’s
  • Forever 21
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Ralph Lauren Corporation
  • Matalan
  • River Island
  • Sports Direct
  • Shop Direct
  • Rip Curl
  • Adidas
  • C&A
  • Cotton On
  • Esprit
  • G-Star RAW
  • H&M
  • Kmart Australia
  • Spencer
  • Patagonia
  • Puma
  • Targer Australia
  • Woolworths

Supply chain transparency is an important first step toward more meaningful corporate accountability. Multi-stakeholder initiatives should also endorse the Transparency Pledge as a minimum standard for apparel supply chain transparency for their member companies and publicly scorecard members on transparency practices.

Investors should also endorse the Transparency Pledge as part of broader efforts to promote effective human rights due to diligence tools that are industry good practice and in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Transparency Pledge is an important first step, but is not the end of the story. Far more can and should be done to promote deeper and wider transparency and human rights in garment industry supply chains.

These efforts should include expanding traceability and transparency beyond that cut-make-trim manufacturing phase to other aspects of the supply chain, including manufacturing of yarn, fabric, and other inputs, and the production of  raw materials like cotton.

List of companies with full pledge alignment:

  • Adidas
  • ASOS
  • C&A
  • Clarks
  • Cotton On Group
  • Esprit
  • G-Star RAW
  • H&M Group
  • Hanesbrands
  • Levi Strauss
  • Lindex
  • New Look
  • Next
  • Nike
  • Patagonia
  • Pentland Group

To read the full report click to download here

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