BESTSELLER signs ‘Social and Labor Convergence Project’ facilitated by the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition)

AFTER THE ANNUAL SUSTAINABLE APPAREL COALITION MEMBERSHIP MEETING IN JAPAN LAST WEEK, BESTSELLER HAS COMMITTED TO WORKING IN COOPERATION WITH LARGE INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES LIKE H&M, INDITEX, LEVI STRAUSS & CO., NIKE ETC. TO CREATE A COMMON AUDIT STANDARD FOR THE INDUSTRY.

Brande, Denmark, 2015-10-22 — /EPR Retail News/ — Today (21 October 2015), many companies have their own social audit standards and methods, some with only minor differences, which means that suppliers spend a lot of time and resources on managing the many audits. With this new project that goes under the name ‘Social and Labor Convergence Project’ and is facilitated by the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition), apparel brands, retailers, verification companies, industrial organisations and NGO’s have committed to working towards aligning all standards and making one audit manual. This will release time and resources for our suppliers to focus on making continuous improvements at their factories.

“In BESTSELLER we are excited about this new opportunity to find more effective and efficient ways of raising labour standards at industry level and work on continuous improvements. We acknowledge the challenge to agree on a common standard, but with the experiences gained from similar cooperative approaches, e.g. the Bangladesh Accord, we believe that the industry is ready to work on finding joint solutions on this matter too”, says Katrine Milman, CSR Responsible in BESTSELLER.

Part of working group
BESTSELLER is part of the working group that will develop this audit manual, and once agreed upon, it will replace our existing audit manual. This means that all companies will use the same audit questions and verification, but each company can evaluate the outcome according to own standards. “By joining this working group, we will have great influence on the outcome and follow the development closely. It also means that we get an even greater insight into the problems other companies are facing”, says Katrine.

The project was initiated due to company and industry requests to make social auditing simpler, and it is very much welcomed by the European Commission, The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and a number of European countries who have also called for a standardised global approach.

The SAC meeting
The SAC meeting took place from 13 -16 October 2015 in Osaka with the participation of 236 people. Besides presenting the ‘Social and Labor Convergence Project’, updates on the HIGG Index were given and discussed in groups.

“Even though we are competitors, there is an open dialogue and culture in the SAC group, and everyone are keen on sharing knowledge and forming working groups to find cooperative solutions.”, says Katrine.

The next SAC meeting will be held in Copenhagen in May 2016, hosted by H&M and Danish Fashion Institute(DAFI) in collaboration with BESTSELLER and the other Danish members, ECCO and IC Group. The meeting will be arranged in connection with the international sustainability conference, Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition
• The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a trade organisation comprised of brands, retailers, manufacturers, government, NGO’s and academic experts, representing more than a third of the global apparel and footwear market.
• SAC is working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world
• BESTSELLER became a member in December 2013.
• All members commit to using the Higg Index (see below)

The Higg Index
• The Higg Index is a self-assessment tool that empowers brands, retailers and facilities of all sizes, at every stage in their sustainability journey, to measure their environmental and social and labour impacts and identify areas for improvement.
• The Higg Index comprises several easy-to-access, online tools or ‘modules’ designed for members from every segment of the industry.
• The Facility Environmental Module has just been updated and BESTSELLER has agreed to pilot test it together with a selection of our suppliers.
• Most brands have already come far in regards to social compliance, and it would make no sense to refine the existing social module as this would have no effect on the number of audits. That is why we have agreed to develop the common industry standard for social audits.
Read more about the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Higg Index here (http://apparelcoalition.org/)

Social and Labor Convergence Project signatories
Brands/Retailers:
Adidas
Asics
BESTSELLER
Burton
Columbia Sportswear Co.
Gap Inc.
H&M
IC Group
Inditex
Levi Strauss & Co.
MEC
Nike
Patagonia
Puma
PVH Corp.
REI
Target
VFc­Timberland

Manufacturers:
Avery Dennison
W.L. Gore & Associates, Fabrics Division
Hanbo
L&E International, Ltd. Organization

NGO’s:
European Outdoor Group (EOG)
International Apparel Federation (IAF)
IDH
Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)
Sedex
Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC)
Solidaridad
Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)

Auditing Firms:
Bureau Veritas
Control Union
SGS

 

Corporate Communication
Phone: +45 99 42 16 62
E-mail: communications@bestseller.com

SOURCE: BESTSELLER