Clothing giants aim to boost worker welfare

Levi's, H&M, Nike and Adidas are among a group of clothing brands that have launched a new initiative that seeks to improve working conditions in clothing manufacturing across the world.

The project, organised by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), aims to streamline the various audits and assessments that manufacturers must comply with into one standardised assessment.

By doing this, the industry believes that it will be able to significantly reduce the amount of money it spends on duplicated auditing and invest the money saved in improving social welfare for workers.

A statement  from the SAC explained: “With brands and retailers each applying their own slightly different standards, manufacturers are allocating valuable resources to manage a steady stream of audits.

“In addition to contributing to ‘audit fatigue,’ this duplication reduces the value of audits and consumes resources that could otherwise be applied to making improvements.

“We call for collaboration among these actors to reach a common social assessment standard, method or tool for social and labour performance measurement in apparel and footwear supply chains . We believe that this effort could later be applied to other industries.”

Gap, Patagonia and Puma were also among the backers of the new project, which doesn’t have an official name..

Efficiency, transparency

SAC Europe vice-president Baptiste Carriere-Pradal said: “This initiative will accelerate a race to the top in social impacts within apparel and footwear manufacturing countries by shifting resources away from redundant and misaligned assessments to performance improvement and enhanced transparency.

“Convergence is the key to successfully increase transparency and to improve working conditions in global supply chains.”

A spokesperson from H&M pointed out that previous attempts to agree on a common standard had failed, but that the industry had taken “significant steps forward” on the issue.

The Swedish firm’s sustainability manager Tobias Fischer added: “H&M strongly believes that the sustainability challenges we are facing in the textile supply chain requires joint efforts since all parties have a shared responsibility and have a stake in it.”

SAC public statement and list of signatories

Brad Allen

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