Our Inclusive, by Design mission informs our approach to stakeholder engagement: Advancing progress on systemic issues such as water resilience, climate change, women’s empowerment, and safe and fair working conditions demands collaboration and jointly developed solutions.
Having operated a variety of factory-focused programs for over two decades, we have established a comprehensive network of stakeholders that we rely on for insight, guidance and accountability. The frequency of our engagement with stakeholders is based on their connection to our business, our ability to impact them and the salience of the issue being addressed. For example, we engage with each stakeholder group at different cadences, depending on salient risks, priorities for our stakeholders, and our own priorities. In addition to our regular check-ins with stakeholders, we might also actively seek out stakeholder engagement when there are developing issues related to specific supply chains, countries, or materials. In these instances, we are typically hoping to learn more about a specific human rights issue or stakeholder need, to proactively mitigate potential risks. In other cases, when issues arise, including violations of our Human Rights Policy, COVC, or COBC, we seek to work with suppliers, unions, worker-representative organizations, and local and international NGOs that have expertise and connections in the that area.
When human rights issues arise, we work with suppliers, unions, worker-representative organizations, and local and international NGOs that have expertise and connections in that area. Our aim is to prioritize the impact of affected parties and come to a resolution that is fair and ethical. We use what we learn to improve how we respond to future issues, and we share insights with other buyers, governments and other stakeholders so these lessons can be applied more broadly.
Our stakeholders include:
- Local NGOs and trade unions: Our Supplier Sustainability team regularly checks in with these stakeholders in the countries from which we source, particularly when we identify complex labor-related issues in a factory.
- International NGOs and trade unions: These organizations help us evolve and improve our labor and human rights policies and practices.
- Multilateral institutions, development agencies and governments: These institutions’ policies and investments have a material impact on supply chain working conditions and environmental issues.
- Industry initiatives: We are part of initiatives such as the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) Social Responsibility Committee and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) ESG Committee, which convene brands to scale and amplify collective efforts related to human rights and environmental impacts.
- Suppliers: Our suppliers are critical partners in helping us achieve our goals related to garment workers and supply chain efficiencies:
- Our Global Supply Chain and Supplier Sustainability teams lead our efforts to improve labor standards in our supply chain through a proactive engagement strategy and reactive ethos that underscores the importance of responding to any relevant inquiry. Our sourcing department uses an integrated scorecard to measure our suppliers’ performance, including on social and labor issues.
- We lead regular dialogue with labor and human rights organizations at the international level. At the local level, our Supplier Sustainability team works in about 25 countries to gather insight on factories’ employment practices and working conditions through their relationships with community-based organizations, NGOs and trade unions. These networks augment the findings we gather through the assessments, trainings and surveys that we conduct at our suppliers’ facilities. For example, we engage with workers in our Tier 1 supply chain through formal interviews conducted during our assessments and through informal relationships with worker representatives. We also use worker-centric technologies in several markets, which allow us to receive constant feedback. about specific human rights issues or stakeholder needs to proactively mitigate any risks.
- In addition, we communicate our policies and commitments—including our Human Rights Policy and grievance channels—through multiple touch points (available in local languages and via in-person and virtual support when possible): an online platform that contains all relevant information on our human rights policies and practices; consultative in-person and virtual visits; and interviews and engagement with workers through our portfolio of programs that seek to respect workers’ rights and empower women.
Employees: We engage proactively with our employees quarterly to collect their feedback through surveys distributed by our HR team.
Customers: We also solicit feedback from a sample of customers through representative surveys conducted by our Consumer Insights team, including an annual survey that focuses on issues related to sustainability and our product offerings.
To see a list of organizations and initiatives that we belong to or partner with, click here.