We are committed to ensuring that the people who make our clothes are not subject to any form of discrimination. Our COVC prohibits any form of discrimination during hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination, or retirement based on race, color, gender, nationality, religion, age, maternity status, marital status, indigenous status, ethnicity, social origin, disability, sexual orientation, HIV/AIDS status, or membership in worker organizations, including unions or political affiliation.
We conduct assessments of all branded apparel suppliers on a regular basis to check for any signs of discrimination in hiring or promotion decisions, contract terms, labor practices, payroll records, or tests or medical exams workers may be asked to take. We know that enforcing our discrimination standards requires significant time and attention, especially because the majority of garment workers are women, while the vast majority of supervisors and managers are men.
Our team also identifies common risks and best practices for pregnant or nursing women, including rearranging working hours, adjusting overtime hours and offering greater flexibility for break times.
Prevention of Sexual Harassment
Goal: By 2025, 100 percent of our factories will have prevention-and-response management systems and trainings in place to address gender-based violence.
Confronting and eliminating sexual harassment, of which the most common form is unwanted and unavoidable sexual attention from coworkers, is an urgent priority. Women, who comprise the majority of the global garment workforce, face higher rates of harassment, and most women do not report these issues because they fear retaliation or worry their supervisors will not believe them. Addressing these issues requires all relevant stakeholders in our industry to direct more time and resources toward effective solutions.
Our Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Prevention and Response program was developed with ILO Better Work and is a critical part of our gender strategy, helping enforce our zero-tolerance policy on physical, psychological and sexual harassment.
Over the years, we have conducted regular assessments of the facilities with which we work and have found serious violations related to gender-based discrimination and harassment. We recognize that it’s not enough to rely solely on auditing to detect and address these issues.
In 2018, we expanded our efforts, collaborating with third-party expert organizations (ILO Better Work, CARE, etc.) to deliver awareness training and capacity-building. After factory management undergo awareness training, internal factory trainers benefit from train-the-trainer sessions, so that they can deliver in-depth training on GBV prevention and response to their workers.
Building on programs that our Supplier Sustainability team began in India and other key sourcing countries— Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Nicaragua and Vietnam—we have set a goal for all of our factories to have GBV training and prevention and response systems in place by 2025. By 2023, we aim to ensure that all workers in our factories undergo GBV training every year.
By the end of 2020, 75 percent of our factories completed the awareness training and a number of workers have been provided in-depth training on GBV Prevention and Response (more than 5,000 workers in Vietnam and nearly 100,000 in India).
Through this program, we work with our facilities to help ensure they do three things: raise awareness of gender-based violence, why it happens and what can be done about it; invest in preventing and addressing the issue in the workplace; and use our prevention and response spectrum to identify, address and remediate issues immediately. Additionally, we are working with factories to review and improve their GBV policies. Recognizing that training is a necessary but insufficient intervention to meaningfully address this issue, we are currently exploring partnerships with expert organizations and other major apparel brands to help create a proven, industry-wide approach that can be implemented at scale.
We are also closely watching the emergency of government policies to address this issue. In recent years, GBV has become a government priority in India, which enacted its Prevention of Sexual Harassment (POSH) law to make workplaces safer for women, as well as Vietnam and Indonesia, which have implemented similar laws. We are tailoring our training programs to align with such legislation. We believe these laws, as well as collaborative efforts by the apparel industry, are helping move the needle on this issue, creating a better environment for gender parity and women’s empowerment in global supply chains.
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and lockdowns in 2020, we were not able to deliver training in certain countries, such as Indonesia and parts of Central America. In places where we could, including in China, Vietnam and Cambodia, we reached a high number of facilities using a train-the-trainer model. For all facilities, a three-hour, in-depth workshop is followed by subsequent annual training programs, acting as shorter refreshers tailored to each facility’s needs. We are conducting baseline, midline and endline surveys to measure progress, which we will report on in 2021.
We will measure performance against our target by assessing the percentage of factories where 100 percent of workers have received annual training on gender-based violence prevention and response. We will further assess the extent to which factories have a functioning grievance mechanism through which workers can report incidents of gender-based violence, harassment and abuse.
Looking ahead, we will build on this program to focus on women’s empowerment, which we will link to Empower@Work, our collaborative effort with BSR HERproject, ILO Better Work, CARE, ICRW and Walmart. It aims to use common curriculum and best practices to advance women’s empowerment and gender equity in global supply chains.