Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry

ICAR is pleased to announce the publication of "Follow the Thread: The Need for Supply Chain Transparency in the Garment and Footwear Industry," which was developed by a coalition of 9 organizations, including ICAR.

The coalition consists of Clean Clothes Campaign, Human Rights Watch, IndustriALL Global Union, the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, the International Labor Rights Forum, the International Trade Union Confederation, the Maquila Solidarity Network, UNI Global Union, and the Worker Rights Consortium.

This report comes just ahead of the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse disaster in Bangladesh. It calls for companies to adopt the Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge. The Transparency Pledge draws upon existing good practices of global apparel companies and sets a floor, not ceiling, for supply chain transparency. It asks apparel companies to publish important information about supplier factories and their authorized subcontractors, addressing a key obstacle to rooting out abusive labor practices across the industry and helping to prevent disasters like the Rana Plaza collapse. These efforts to publish supplier factory information help assert workers’ human rights, advance ethical business practices and human rights due diligence in apparel supply chains, and build stakeholder trust, in line with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

Transparency is a powerful tool for promoting corporate accountability for garment workers’ rights in global supply chains. It allows workers and labor and human rights advocates to alert the company to rights abuses in its supplier factories. Information about brands’ supplier factories facilitates faster access to grievance redress mechanisms for human rights abuses.

Coalition members wrote to 72 companies – including 23 industry leaders that were already publishing supplier factory information – urging them to adopt and carry out the Transparency Pledge standards. At the time, many apparel companies, including some that source from countries with persistent labor rights problems, were not publishing any supplier factory information.

Of the 72 companies that the coalition contacted, 17 will be in full alignment with the pledge standards by December 2017.

Many other companies fell short of the pledge standards: five fall just short of the pledge, 18 are moving in the right direction by disclosing at least the names and addresses of cut-make-trim factories, and seven are taking small steps toward publishing supplier factory information – for example, a part of their supplier factories, or at least the names of their supplier factories by country of manufacture, by December 2017.

Another 25 apparel companies do not publish information about factories that manufacture their products. Those companies either did not respond or made no commitment to publish any of the information requested.

The coalition urges companies that have not aligned with the pledge to do so by December and to help galvanize the apparel industry toward a basic threshold level of supply chain transparency.

The full report can be accessed here.

The Transparency Pledge can be accessed here.

To join the Follow the Thread Campaign and sign the Change.org petition urging Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, Primark, and Armani to commit to the Transparency Pledge by May 31 and implement it by December 31, 2017, please click here.