(London) – More apparel and footwear companies should join 17 leading apparel brands that have aligned with an important new transparency pledge, a coalition of unions and human rights and labor rights advocates said in a joint report issued today. The pledge commits companies to publish information that will enable advocates, workers, and consumers to find out where their products are made.
 
The 40-page report, “Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry,” comes just ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse disaster in Bangladesh. It calls for companies to adopt the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge. Companies that align with the pledge agree to publish information identifying the factories that produce their goods, addressing a key obstacle to rooting out abusive labor practices across the industry and helping to prevent disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse.
 
The coalition contacted 72 companies and asked them to adopt and carry out the pledge. The report details their responses and measures their current supply chain transparency practices against the pledge.
 
 
“A basic level of supply chain transparency in the garment industry should be the norm in the 21st century,” said Aruna Kashyap, senior counsel for the women’s rights division at Human Rights Watch. “Openness about a company’s supply chain is better for workers, better for human rights, and shows that companies care about preventing abuse in their supply chains.”
 
The Rana Plaza building collapse on April 24, 2013 killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured more than 2,000. It was preceded by two large factory fires – one in Pakistan’s Ali Enterprises factory and another in Bangladesh’s Tazreen Fashions factory – that killed more than 350 workers and seriously injured many others. Afterward, labor advocates could not determine which companies’ products were made at these factories and had to hunt for the brand labels from the factory sites and interview surviving workers to determine who was responsible
 
By the end of 2016, at least 29 global apparel companies had published some information about the factories that manufacture their products. To build on this momentum, in 2016, a nine-member coalition of labor and human rights organizations and global unions endorsed the Transparency Pledge. Its aim is to create a level playing field in the industry and move it toward a minimum standard for publishing supplier factory information.
 

 

The coalition consists of Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the International Labor Rights Forum, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, and the Worker Rights Consortium.

Coalition members wrote to 72 companies – including 23 industry leaders that were already publishing supplier factory information – urging them to adopt and carry out the Transparency Pledge standards. At the time, many apparel companies, including some that source from countries with persistent labor rights problems, were not publishing any supplier factory information.

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The Transparency Pledge draws upon existing good practices of global apparel companies and sets a floor, not ceiling, for supply chain transparency. It asks apparel companies to publish important information about supplier factories and their authorized subcontractors. These efforts to publish supplier factory information help assert workers’ human rights, advance ethical business practices and human rights due diligence in apparel supply chains, and build stakeholder trust, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
 
Many significant investors have begun to urge apparel companies to make their supplier information public. Most recently, the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, endorsed by 85 investors representing US$5.3 trillion in assets, score-carded apparel companies’ supply chain transparency, requiring them to publish at least the names of factories that produced for them.
 
“After Rana Plaza and other disasters, human rights groups, unions, and some companies and investors have seen how important transparency is for preventing abuses and for efforts at accountability,” said Ben Vanpeperstraete, lobby and advocacy coordinator at the Clean Clothes Campaign International Office. “Companies need to put transparency into practice to show that they respect human rights and decent working conditions.”
 
Transparency is a powerful tool for promoting corporate accountability for garment workers’ rights in global supply chains, the coalition said. It allows workers and labor and human rights advocates to alert the company to rights abuses in its supplier factories. Information about brands’ supplier factories facilitates faster access to grievance redress mechanisms for human rights abuses.
 
Of the 72 companies that the coalition contacted, 17 will be in full alignment with the pledge standards by December 2017.
 
Many other companies fell short of the pledge standards: five fall just short of the pledge, 18 are moving in the right direction by disclosing at least the names and addresses of cut-make-trim factories, and seven are taking small steps toward publishing supplier factory information – for example, a part of their supplier factories, or at least the names of their supplier factories by country of manufacture, by December 2017.
 
Another 25 apparel companies do not publish information about factories that manufacture their products. Those companies either did not respond or made no commitment to publish any of the information requested.
 
The coalition urges companies that have not aligned with the pledge to do so by December and to help galvanize the apparel industry toward a basic threshold level of supply chain transparency.
 
“Adhering to a minimum level of supply chain transparency in the pledge is important for accountability efforts,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director at the International Labor Rights Forum. “Companies can do more, but they should at least start with this basic step.”
 
Some companies claimed that disclosure would put them at a commercial disadvantage. But that justification is clearly contradicted by the other companies that are publishing such information, the groups said. As Esprit, one of the companies that made a commitment to align with the pledge, said, “[R]eleasing this information is not comfortable for many companies, but the time has come to do it.”
 
Apparel Companies in Full Pledge or Close to Full Pledge Alignment
Apparel companies that had previously published supply chain information and made a commitment to publish additional supplier factory information by December 2017 in full alignment with the pledge standards are adidas, C&A, Cotton On Group, Esprit, G-Star RAW, H&M Group, Hanesbrands, Levis, Lindex, Nike, and Patagonia.
 
Apparel companies that had previously not published any supplier factory information and have made a commitment to publish information in full alignment with the pledge are ASICS, ASOS, Clarks, New Look, Next, and Pentland Brands. These global apparel companies will help break new ground by promoting an industry-wide minimum standard for supply chain transparency.
 
John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Gap, and Mountain Equipment Co-op adhere to transparency practices that fall just short of the pledge standards.
 
In the Right Direction
Coles, Columbia Sportswear, Disney, Hudson’s Bay Company, Kmart and Target Australia, and Woolworths Australia were already publishing the names and street addresses of supplier factories and have not made additional commitments to meet pledge standards. Puma and New Balance were publishing the names and addresses of supplier factories and have made a commitment to add more details to align more closely with the pledge standards.
 
ALDI North and ALDI South, Arcadia Group, Benetton, Debenhams, LIDL, Tchibo, Under Armour, and VF Corporation are taking steps in the right direction and have begun or will begin to publish names and street addresses of at least all cut-make-trim factories in 2017. Fast Retailing published the names and addresses of its UNIQLO brand’s “core factory list” in 2017.
 
Small Steps Toward Publishing Supplier Factory Information
Target USA had previously published the names of their supplier factories with country of manufacture but made no commitment to do more. In 2017, Mizuno, Abercrombie & Fitch, Loblaw, and PVH Corporation have taken steps to publish the names of suppliers, but only with the country of manufacture.
 
BESTSELLER and Decathlon have promised that they will publish supplier factory information in 2017 without specifying precisely what will be included. 
 
No Commitment to Publishing Supplier Factory Information
American Eagle Outfitters, Canadian Tire, Carrefour, Desigual, DICK’S Sporting Goods, Foot Locker, Hugo Boss, KiK, MANGO, Morrison’s, Primark, Sainsbury’s, The Children’s Place, and Walmart did not make a commitment to publish supplier factory information. Inditex declined to publish supplier factory information but makes this data available to IndustriALL and its affiliates as part of its reporting under its Global Framework Agreement.
 
Armani, Carter’s, Forever 21, Matalan, Ralph Lauren Corporation, Rip Curl, River Island, Shop Direct, Sports Direct, and Urban Outfitters did not respond to the coalition and do not publish any supply chain information.
 
Brands that have signed global framework agreements with IndustriALL and publish some supplier factory information:
H&M Group and Mizuno; Tchibo will begin publishing in 2017.
 
Brands that are part of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety and publish supplier factory information:
Accord members that have been publishing supplier factory information are adidas, C&A, Cotton On Group, Esprit, G-Star RAW, H&M Group, Kmart Australia, Lindex, Marks and Spencer, Puma, Target Australia, and Woolworths.
 
Accord members that have begun or will begin publishing some supplier factory information in 2017 are Abercrombie & Fitch, ALDI North and ALDI South, BESTSELLER, Debenhams, Fast Retailing, John Lewis, New Look, Next, LIDL, Loblaw, PVH Corporation, Tchibo, and Tesco.
 
Brands that are part of the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (the Textil Bündnis) and publish their supplier factory information:
Adidas, C&A, Esprit, H&M, and Puma; others including ALDI North and ALDI South, LIDL, and Tchibo began or will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017.
 
 
Current/Anticipated Disclosure by December 31, 2017 vs. Pledge Standards
Company Headquarters Published supplier factory--cut-make-trim (CMT) and subcontractor-- information prior to Pledge Letter? Supplier factory information published meets or will meet Full Pledge by December 2017? Names and street addresses of CMT factories and their subcontractors Worker numbers Product types Parent company information Frequency of disclosures Time Frame to Implement Pledge
Abercrombie & Fitch US None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names of tier-1 factories (CMT for woven, denim, knit, sweater, intimates,and accessoroies) with country of manufacture, but without street address. No No No 2 times per year 2017
Adidas Germany Names of all tier-1 factories, including those used by licensees as well as authorized subcontractors, by country and city. Names of all tier-2 wet process suppliers, by country and city. Separate lists of supplier factories used for the Olympic Games. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
ALDI North and ALDI South Germany None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses of tier-1 (CMT) factories but not their subcontractors. No No No 1+ times per year 2017
American Eagle Outfitters US None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Arcadia Group UK None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses of tier-1 (CMT) factories but disclosure of authorized subcontractors will need more time. No No No 1+ times per year NA
Armani Italy None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
ASICS Japan None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 1 time per year 2017
ASOS UK None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 6 times per year 2017
Benetton Italy None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses of tier-1 (CMT) factories but not their subcontractors. No Yes No 1 time per year NA
BESTSELLER Denmark None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Company stated that tier-1 (CMT) factories will be published but did not provide more information about what precisely will be disclosed for each factory. No information No information No information No information 2017
C&A Netherlands Names and addresses of all CMT factories. Excluded: Brazil, Mexico, and processing factories. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
Canadian Tire Canada None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Carrefour France None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Carter's US None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Clarks UK None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year A vast majoirity of the supplier factory information will be published in 2017. Five percent of non-footwear accessories to be published in 2018.
Coles Australia Names and addresses of CMT factories, but not subcontractors. Company states that its supplier factories use minimal subcontracting. No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Names and addresses of CMT factories, but not subcontractors. Company states that its supplier factories use minimal subcontracting. No No No 1 time per year NA
Columbia Sportswear US Names and addresses of factories from which they directly source and any external subcontractors engaged to perform finishing processes (mostly limited to collegiate suppliers since the others have in-house capacity). No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Yes No No No 1 time per year NA
Cotton On Group Australia Names and addresses of CMT factories used by top 20 suppliers. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes Multiple 2017
Debenhams UK None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses of tier-1 factories which includes all CMT factories; some external processing such as embroidering and washing may not be included. Yes No No No information 2017
Decathlon France None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Company did not provide more information about what precisely will be disclosed for each factory. No information No information No information No information 2017
Desigual Spain None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
DICK'S Sporting Goods US None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Disney US Names and addresses of all facilities part of Disney's vertical supply chain and any facility in its vertical supply chains where Disney intellectual property is located, which includes any laundry, printing, embroidery facility if Disney intellectual property is incorporated into that finished product or component. No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Names and addresses of all facilities in its vertical supply chain, including subcontractors, where Disney intellectual property is located. No No No 1 time per year NA
Esprit Germany Names and addresses of CMT factoriesand their authorized subcontractors. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
Fast Retailing Japan None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Published name and addresses of "Core Factories"producing for UNIQLO brand, representing 80 percent of the total volume of orders for UNIQLO brand. Plans to publish a list of GU's "major partner factories" in 2017. No clear commitment to publish subcontractors in 2017. No No No 1 time per year 2017
Foot Locker US Previously disclosed names and addresses for suppliers of collegiate apparel line that is currently inactive. No commitment to publish current own-brand supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Forever 21 US None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
G-Star RAW Netherlands Names, addresses, product types, parent company, and worker numbers for CMT factories. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
Gap US Names and addresses of CMT factories and their authorized subcontractors. Almost full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes No 2 times per year Gap did not make any new commitments to align with the Pledge by December 2017. The company updated its supplier factory information to be more closely aligned with the Pledge.
H&M Group Sweden Names and addresses of supplier factories and vendors (suppliers), processing factories, and some fabric suppliers. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 4 times per year 2017
Hanesbrands US Names and addresses of collegiate suppliers and owned factories. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 4 times per year 2017
Hudson's Bay Company Canada Names and addresses of some, but not all, supplier factories. No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Names and addresses of some, but not all, CMT factories. No No No 1 time per year NA
Hugo Boss Germany None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Inditex Spain CMT factories not published. Names and addresses of direct and indirect wet processing factories published. No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
John Lewis UK None Almost full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes No 2 times per year 2017
KiK Germany None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Kmart Australia Australia Names and addresses of factories in "high risk" countries. No response to coalition letter. Names and addresses of factories in "high risk" countries. No No No No information NA
Levi Strauss US Names and addresses of CMT factories and authorized subcontractors. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
LIDL Germany None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses of tier-1 factories which includes all CMT, but does not include all processing facilities. No No No 2 times per year 2017
Lindex Sweden Names and addresses of CMT factories. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 1 time per year 2017
Loblaw Canada None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names of all factories where they Òsource apparel and footwear directlyÓ with country of manufacture but not street address. No No No 2 times per year 2017
MANGO Spain None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Marks and Spencer (M&S) UK Names and street addresses, worker numbers, gender breakdown, and product types. Almost full Pledge alignment. M&S will continue with its Plan A disclosure commitments and add processing factories and also make its existing disclosure available in a searchable format. Yes Yes Yes No 2 times per year 2017
Matalan UK None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Mizuno Japan None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names along with country of manufacture of "Core Suppliers," that is, 125 factories disclosed of 464 tier-1 suppliers as reported on Mizuno website. No Yes No No information Began disclosure in 2017.
Morrison's UK None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) Canada Names and addresses of all CMT factories and some processing facilities. Almost full Pledge alignment. Names and addresses of all CMT factories and some processing facilities. Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year Additional details for CMT factories to meet Pledge standards will be published in 2017. Names and other details of authorized printers will be added subsequently.
New Balance US Names and addresses of direct supplier factories, excluding US wholly-owned facilities. Not full Pledge, but will add product type, and update annually in searchable format. Names and addresses of direct supplier factories, excluding US wholly-owned facilities. No Yes No 1 time per year 2017
New Look UK None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes At least annual 2017
Next UK None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
Nike US Names, addresses, product category, worker numbers, gender and migrant worker breakdown, and authorized subcontractor. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 4 times per year 2017
Patagonia US Names, addresses, product category, worker numbers, gender breakdown, and parent companies of CMT and authorized subcontractors. Some fabric suppliers indicated. One cotton farm also disclosed. Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 1 time per year 2017
Pentland Brands UK None Full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes Yes 2 times per year 2017
Primark UK None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Puma Germany Name of factory by country, city for tier-1 "core suppliers" and tier-2 material and component suppliers. Almost full Pledge alignment for tier-1 "core suppliers" factories. Names and addresses of tier-1 "core suppliers" amounting to 80 percent of their total business volume. But authorized subcontractors (if any) are not included in the definition of "core suppliers." Yes Yes No 1 time per year 2017
PVH Corporation US None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names of CMT factories along with country of manufacture but without street address. No No No 2 times per year 2017
Ralph Lauren Corporation US None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Rip Curl Australia None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
River Island UK None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Sainsbury's UK None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Shop Direct UK None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Sports Direct UK None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
Target Australia Australia Based on information on its website, Target Australia appears to disclose the names and addresses of CMT factories. No response to coalition letter. Names and addresses of CMT factories appear to be disclosed. The coalition has no information about percentage of supplier factories disclosed or other exclusions, if any. No No No Company website says "regular basis." NA
Target USA US Names and countries of CMT suppliers, textile and wet processing factories. No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Names of CMT factories along with country of manufacture but without street address. No No No 4 times per year NA
Tchibo Germany None Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses for CMT factories. Yes Yes No No information NA
Tesco UK Names and addresses of Bangladesh supplier factories only. Almost full Pledge alignment. Yes Yes Yes No 2 times per year 2017
The Children's Place US None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Under Armour US Only suppliers factories for collegiate apparel. Not full Pledge, but will begin publishing supplier factory information in 2017. Names and addresses for all CMT factories (but not embellishers or subcontractors). Yes Yes Yes No information Pledge details for CMT factories will be published in 2017.
Urban Outfitters US None No response to coalition letter. No No No No NA NA
VF Corporation US Names of factories by country for all VF brands of all VF-owned and operated, and direct sourced, tier-1 supplier factories. Not full Pledge, but will include street addresses to align more with the Pledge. Names and addresses of all CMT factories but not those used by licensees and subcontractors. No No No Regular 2017
Walmart US None No commitment to publish supplier factory information. No No No No NA NA
Woolworths Australia Names and addresses of all sites in Bangladesh are disclosed, and overall more than 40 percent of the supply chain (for apparel and footwear) is published. No additional commitments to meet Pledge standards; maintaining status quo. Names and addresses of all sites in Bangladesh are disclosed, and overall more than 40 percent of the supply chain (for apparel and footwear) is published. No No No 4 times per year NA