The company behind global sport, outdoor and footwear brands like Speedo and Berghaus is tackling one of the most prevalent problems in the fashion industry — modern slavery — using a new ethical trade app.
The app, titled Everyone’s Business, was released as a tool for employees among Pentland Brands’ vast supply chain network to help identify possible ethical trade issues, from unmet labor standards to human rights violations.
“It allows our colleagues to speak up if they have concerns, in a consistent way that’s recordable and transparent,” said Sara Brennan, head of Corporate Responsibility at Pentland Brands. “Ultimately, it helps us continue to operate to high labour and human rights standards. As a business, we believe in doing the right thing, not the easy thing, and this app helps us to make better, more informed ethical decisions.”
In addition to educational information, Everyone’s Business allows employees — typically factory-facing workers — to report potential problems. Those concerns are then passed on to Pentland’s in-house corporate responsibility team, thus facilitating a more direct and timely two-way conversation.
The app is available anywhere the brand management company has suppliers and can be used by merchandisers, quality managers, buyers and employees who frequently interact with suppliers.
Pentland Brands is one of the founding members of the Ethical Trading Initiative, a coalition of retailers, NGOs and charities, labor rights’ groups and suppliers working to eradicate modern slavery. For the third year in a row, the company released a report measuring its progress in 2018.
ETI classifies a myriad of conditions as modern slavery, including human trafficking, forced labor and bonded labor. The heavy use of migrant workers and agents who cultivate supplier relationships on behalf of brands makes it difficult to keep track of every stage of production, according to Pentland.
Of the ten objectives it set for 2018, four were achieved or partly achieved — namely the roll-out of vulnerable workers policies for child laborers, migrant workers and homeworkers.
Pentland also continued audits of suppliers and started to create better mechanism for reporting violations at supplier factories. The app, created with the sustainability and corporate responsibility consultancy Carnstone Partners, is part of that solution.
“Information gathered from these many visits can be used by the ethical trade teams to make informed decisions when engaging with suppliers and managing supplier risks,” said William Pickett of Carnstone Partners. “We’re delighted to be working with Pentland Brands and other leading retailers who have helped lead and shape this initiative.”