APPAREL

Themes Key Findings

2016 Apparel & Footwear

The companies' average overall score across the benchmark methodology's seven themes, which were selected to capture the key areas where companies need to take action to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. There are a total of 22 indicators across the seven themes. For each theme a company can score a total of 100 points.

46

Overall Score 2016 Apparel & Footwear
29 Theme Score

Summary of Results

As the second-lowest scoring theme and one that is critical to reducing instances of forced labor in supply chains, engagement with supply chain workers is an area where the industry needs to significantly improve, not least as engagement with workers can help identify, resolve and prevent labor abuses in the supply chain that traditional monitoring systems do not catch.
Seven companies communicate their human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards to workers in their supply chains. Most companies do so by posting posters of their code in local languages at suppliers' factories. Notably, to improve the effectiveness of this process, adidas provides supporting guidance, such as SMS messaging services and trainings, tailors information such as booklets and videos to focus on local labor laws, and communicates with factories who employ foreign workers. Another example is Primark, which empowers supply chain workers to take ownership of the company's code (e.g., through role play, facilitation by local NGOs, and peer-to-peer learning at factories in India, China, and Bangladesh). Primark publishes its code of conduct in 39 languages on its website, covering all major languages used at its production facilities, and requires suppliers to communicate its code to workers. Ten additional companies make their policies and standards available in the languages of suppliers' workers.
It is encouraging that five companies provide at least limited details on engaging workers outside of the context of the factories in which they work in a manner that may give more voice to workers, a practice rarely seen in other sectors.
Equally encouraging is that, where there are regulatory constraints on freedom of association, three companies encourage suppliers to ensure workplace environments in which workers are able to pursue alternative forms of organizing. Two additional companies provide examples of engaging suppliers on this issue.
While company-level grievance mechanisms are common, only 11 companies have a grievance mechanism for suppliers' workers in place, and only seven disclose ways in which the mechanism is made accessible to workers in their supply chains (e.g., the mechanism is available in workers' languages). Five companies ensure that the existence of the mechanism is proactively communicated to suppliers' workers, for example by posting the grievance mechanism details in factories, by providing training on the use of the mechanisms, or by providing relevant contact details directly or via SMS systems to workers. Further, four companies require suppliers to have in place a grievance mechanism for workers and to convey this same requirement to their suppliers. Seven companies are members of the Fair Labor Association and therefore third parties such as suppliers' workers have access to the FLA's Third Party Complaint procedure.
While most grievance mechanisms tend to focus on factory level, VF states that all worker communities, including tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers' workers, have access to VF's Ethics Helpline, and that suppliers are encouraged to establish their own grievance mechanisms. In addition to establishing a grievance mechanism, H&M provides its contact information to workers in its supply chain so that they are able to report complaints directly to the company. Notably, H&M works with local trade unions as grievance channels, whereby trade union representatives are given business cards to distribute to workers. H&M then follows up on the grievances.

Communication of Policies

The company communicates its human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards to supply chain workers in their native languages.

The company: (1) communicates its human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards to workers in its supply chain. (2) makes its policies and standards available in the languages of suppliers' workers.

Low: 0
High: 100
51

Worker Voice

The company engages with workers outside of the context of the factories in which they work, either directly or in partnership with stakeholders.

The company: (1) has initiatives to engage with workers outside of the context of the factories in which they work, either directly or in partnership with stakeholders

Low: 0
High: 100
12

Worker Empowerment

Where there are regulatory constraints on freedom of association, the company encourages suppliers to ensure workplace environments in which workers are able to pursue alternative forms of organizing.

The company: (1) where there are regulatory constraints on freedom of association, encourages suppliers to ensure workplace environments in which workers are able to pursue alternative forms of organizing.

Low: 0
High: 100
18

Grievance Mechanism

The company has an accessible formal grievance mechanism that facilitates the impartial reporting by suppliers' workers of workplace grievances and informs workers as to how to access the mechanism. Measures are taken to ensure that the impacted stakeholders trust the mechanism.

The company: (1) has formal procedure that allows suppliers' workers to report a grievance to an impartial entity. (2) demonstrates that the mechanism is made accessible to workers in the supply chain (e.g. its available in workers language). (3) ensures that the existence of the mechanism is proactively communicated to suppliers' workers. (4) takes steps to ensure that impacted stakeholders trust the mechanism (e.g. workers who report a grievance can do so without the fear of penalty, dismissal or reprisal of any kind). (5) requires its suppliers to have in place a grievance mechanism that is available to its workers and to convey this same requirement to their suppliers.dismissal or reprisal of any kind).

Low: 0
High: 100
33

Worker Voice: Leading Practice

Primark

Primark works with the NGO SAVE in the South Indian state Tamil Nadu to create Worker Education Groups (WEGs) in local communities where its supply chain workers live. The program aims to raise educate workers on their rights and the use of negotiation tactics with management, and over the course of six years has directly reached 5,000 workers and through peer-to-peer learning has indirectly reached 25,000 workers. An external evaluation found that workers were able to vocalize their rights and use the negotiation tactics with managers in their workplace, resulting in improvements on safety equipment, wage and bonus increases, paid time off, and access to benefits. WEGs also function as grievance mechanisms. By working in regional clusters representatives have been able to raise grievances with factories. Primark is considering to create similar partnerships in other communities in its sourcing countries.

Recommended Action

Worker Empowerment

Translate policy-level commitments to freedom of association into practice by taking steps to ensure that workers in the supply chain are able to organize, especially in contexts where there are regulatory obstacles (often the case for migrant workers).