S & S In Brief: Fashion Transparency Index 2019

The end of April celebrated Fashion Revolution week and marked the six year anniversary since the Rhana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Style should not be synonymous with slavery and the foundations of fashion should not be built on the hands of garment workers paid less than our average latte. Rhana was a turning point but the needle must move at a rapid pace to curb the social and environmental impact of this industry.

In light of Fashion Revolution, Week Fashion Revolution have published their salient 2019 transparency index.

Founder Orsola De Castro has stated “The fashion industry was built on secrecy and elitism, it was opaque. Transparency is disruptive – in that sense, it’s a breath of fresh air and a useful weapon of change.”

Here’s a brief summary of this year’s findings:

👗📈The average score for all 200 brands & retailers is 21% /250 possible points

👗📈 There was a 5% average increase in their level of transparency & a 9% increase on 2017

👗📈The highest scoring brands this year are Adidas, Reebok & Patagonia, who each score 64% of the 250 possible points. Esprit (62%) & H & M (61%)

👗📈 The 5 biggest improvers this year in terms of transparency/disclosure ( Dior, Sainsburys, Nike, New Balance & Marc Jacobs)

👗📈No major brands score above 70%

👗📈70/ 200 major fashion brands we reviewed are publishing a list of their first-tier manufacturers

👗📈38 brands are disclosing their processing facilities

👗📈10 brands are disclosing some of the facilities or farms supplying their fibres such as viscose, cotton and wool.

👗📈5000 consumers across Europe, 80% said fashion brands should dispose their manufacturers

👗📈Average scores across their various sections  have increased but remain disconcertingly low.

📜 Policy & Commitments 48%

Assesses everything from animal welfare, bribery, biodiversity, equal pay, health & safety, labour subcontracting, waste & recycling and water usage and many more. It must be noted there are discrepancies between company disclosure and disclosure of their supplier policies.

-Biodiversity 41.5% disclose company policies (VS 29% on supplier policies)

-Carbon Emissions 72%  publish (VS 48.5% on suppliers)

-Child Labour 84.5% disclosure (VS 38% on how their policies are implemented)

-Diversity & Inclusion 71% publish a company policy (VS 57.5% disclose how their policies are implemented)

-Textile Waste & Recycling 41% now disclosure a company policy (VS 15.5% on suppliers)

-Water usage 53.5% publish a company policy (VS 35.5% on suppliers)

🌐Governance 27%

Inspected the responsibility, accountability and transparency of the brands.

-59.5% publish direct contact details of their sustainability/CSR team (16% disclosure direct contact details)

-42.5% disclose who on the board holds responsibility for the company’s human rights and environmental impacts (37% publish a description of how board level accountability is implemented)

-12%explain how employee incentives are tied to improvements in social/environmental impacts (10% explain this at an executive level, 26.5% explain how suppliers are rewarded for improvements)

👓 Traceability 12%

-35% published 1st tier manufacturers (25% include number of workers, 9% include gender, 2% include whether there is a trade union/workers committee, 24% publish at least 95% of their suppliers on the list, 25.5% have updated this list within the last 6 months)

-19% publish processing facilities beyond 1st tier (3.5% include gender breakdown of workers in these facilities, 10% include the % of brand’s processing facilities are disclosed, 5% publish some of their raw material suppliers, 1.5% include number of workers/site, 38% trace at least 1 material supply chain).

♻️ Know, show & fix 14%

KNOW – 88% disclose process for assessing conditions in supplier facilities, 48.5% explain how frequently supplier assessments are conducted, 38% report conduction supplier assessments beyond the 1st tier, 5% disclose the number of workers interviews

SHOW – 40% publish summarized findings of their assessments for 1st tier suppliers, 17.5% publish summaries of findings

FIX – 3.5% publish summarized findings of their assessments at raw material level, 13% publish assessment findings for 1st tier suppliers, 68.5% disclose the process for remediation when violations are found in a supplier facility, 22% disclose number of supplier facilities with remediation plans, 51.5% publish a confidential whistleblowing procedure for workers in their supply chain, 15.% disclose data about the number of reported violations.

💡 Spotlight issues 17%

Gender Equality – Only just over 1/3 of brands support women’s empowerment projects for garment workers

Only 14% publish best practice guidance on issues facing female workers in the supply chain

63% of brands in 2019 VS 39% 2018 disclose policies on equal pay at company level

Only 30% brands disclose how their equal pay policies are put into practice

-55% of brands published their annual GHG emissions however only 19.5% publish their GHG emissions within their supply chain (where over 50% of the industry’s emissions occur)

-35% of brands disclose the percentage of renewable energy utilized in their own operating facilities, but only 6% share this within their supply chain

-30.5% of brands publish their water footprint in their own facilities, 14% share this across their manufacturing processing levels and only 4$ share water foot print data at fibre production level

-Shockingly only 7 brands map environmental impacts to their financial statements eg) Kering Grou’s Environmental Profit & Loss Report.

-Gender pay gap reports have been issued by ASOS, Burberry, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s & Tesco.

75% of consumers said it is important for brands to protect the environment at every stage of making their products.

The textile industry accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions (3,990 million metric tons CO2eq), which is the same as the total CO2 emissions of the EU & more than all international air travel and maritime shipping combined.

Concludes with the thoughts that transparency is key to transforming the fashion industry, connect between CSR policies and their impact on the ground.

Highlights that 16.5% of brands have revealed their approach to paying living wages to workers in supply chains and a mere 4% report on their progress.

Only 9% of brands in the Index have formal processes for gathering supplier feedback on brand’s purchasing practices.

Although 77% of brands publish policies on freedom of association and collective bargaining in their Supplier Code of Conduct, only 4% of these disclosure the number of supplier facilities that have independent democratically elected trade unions.

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