The Covid-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the challenges faced by supply chain workers, with the most vulnerable being disproportionately affected.
We believe that everyone has the right to fair pay, safe working conditions, and to be treated with dignity and respect. We’re working hard to protect rights of workers and improve conditions for everyone in our supply chain and the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of collaboration in addressing these global issues.
We’ve been a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) since 1998 and since then, we’ve worked together with the ETI and its members to tackle the many complex questions around what steps companies should take to trade ethically, and how we can make a positive difference to workers’ lives.
In June 2020, and in response to the crisis, we adopted enhanced expectations to protect the rights of workers in our supply chain. These include:
1. Engage with ETI on the Enhanced Expectations (transparency of information to ETI)
We share all relevant information with ETI that relates to achieving the expectations set out below and where not met, to provide clear explanations of what has been done to meet expectations
2. Engage with suppliers on supporting their ability to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) Health & Safety guidelines on key issues such Health & Safety, PPE and social distancing
The advice from the WHO on handwashing and the use of sanitizers is universal. It is vital therefore to reinforce health and safety messages to all suppliers and producers and support them to implement appropriate measures within the national context.
3. Suppliers are paid for finished products, enabling workers to be paid for past work
ETI expect businesses to honour their obligations, by paying in full for orders completed and received. For completed work that has not been shipped that the full cost actually incurred by the supplier is met, with any reductions due to saving in shipping cost for example, agreed with the supplier. Ensuring that suppliers then pay workers for work done.
4.Engage with suppliers to cover costs for orders that could not be completed, enabling workers to be paid for past work
ETI expect businesses to honour their obligations, by covering costs incurred for orders in progress.
For example, when we made the decision to hibernate the Boxfresh brand in July, our sourcing team worked with the two Boxfresh footwear suppliers to mitigate the impact. The team committed to continuing to manufacture Kickers and SeaVees footwear with one supplier and worked with the other to ensure a sustainable exit, paying any and all liabilities, and helping them to find alternative opportunities.
We’re making a conscious effort to make the right decisions to protect people in our supply chain through these challenging times. With the guidance of the charities, NGOs and partners we work with, we’re committed to driving the agenda for a fairer, more equal apparel industry.