AMSTERDAM – The apparel industry must do more on the issue of transparency, and publishing lists of suppliers alone is not enough, claims the Clean Clothes Campaign. In a new paper, the NGO argues that for transparency practises to be meaningful, disclosures must enable stakeholders to “work” with published data.
“This requires information to include quality data on suppliers such as presence of unions, workforce information (gender, migrants), purchasing practises, grievance mechanisms,” it says. “While companies have started to publish some data and a few legislations now favour corporate transparency, the lack of consistent disclosure practises is still an issue to tackle.”
Clean Clothes’ latest paper on corporate transparency in textile global supply chains follows up a 2016 report on the issue.
In 2016, the Transparency Pledge, supported by an international coalition of nine labour and human rights organisations was launched. The pledge requires garment companies to disclose a number of different pieces of specific information on their suppliers.
To date, 76 global garment companies have aligned, are close to align or have committed to align to the pledge.
However, Clean Clothes claims brands must now do more. It adds: “In the last four years, a range of Multi-Stakeholders Initiatives and other agreements have also been set up at local, regional or global levels, fostering companies’ best practises and voluntary minimum ethical standards. The European Union has approved the Directive on non-financial disclosure applicable to large enterprises, enacted by Member States in 2016, and a number of national legislations in Europe have also been approved.
“These initiatives are laudable, but they have a limited impact. MSIs are voluntary and often business-led, and information published pursuant to the Transparency Pledge is merely quantitative and does not enable stakeholders to fully assess working conditions along the chain.
“Transparency’s aim is to enable brands’ stakeholders to have access to information and facilitate brand collaboration and collective action in order to stop, prevent, mitigate, and provide remedy for labour abuses in supply chains.
“The Clean Clothes Campaign calls for a system change, in which full transparency of information is mandatory for all garment brands, retailers and suppliers and includes information on the manufacturing process and locations, social aspects -including wage levels- and product life cycle, to be provided in open data standards and machine readable formats.”