OUR ETHICAL TRADE VISION
ALIMSTARS views ethical trade as our responsibility to ensure that every worker in our supply chain is respected and protected.
Everyone in our supply chain should be safe at work, financially secure and respected by their fellow workers. To achieve this, we set high ethical standards and assess and support our suppliers to help meet them. We also work with others to bring about long-lasting improvements in supply chain working conditions.
To help us achieve our vision, ALIMSTARS’ Ethical Trade programme is focused around three strategic objectives:
- Our sourcing practices are reviewed against our Ethical Standards and are continuously improved.
- Our suppliers share our ethical trade vision and work with us to achieve it.
- Workers in our supply chain have good worker-management relations, are employed in safe environments and have improved financial security.
OUR ETHICAL CODE AND POLICIES
Our ethical trade standards are set out in these policies:
- ALIMSTARS Supplier Ethical Code: Based on the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code and ILO Fundamental Conventions, it defines the minimum standards that we require from all of our suppliers.
- ALIMSTARS Child Labour Remediation and Young Worker Policy: Sets out the steps suppliers and factories need to take to protect young workers and to ensure children are not involved in the manufacture of any of our products.
- Migrant and Contract Worker Policy: Sets out supplier and factory requirements for the recruitment and management of migrant and contract workers – two groups vulnerable to exploitation.
ETHICAL TRADE STRATEGY
Our Board approved a new Ethical Trade Strategy in January 2017, setting out our long-term vision for increasing respect for workers’ rights across our supply chain. Our strategy is two-pronged – it focuses on improving our business practices to protect human rights in our supply chain from the top down, while empowering workers to realise their fundamental rights from the bottom up. Our key priorities centre on:
- Supply chain transparency: we recognise the importance of supply chain mapping and due diligence to uphold human rights and prevent undeclared subcontracting. We’re developing ways to ensure the transparency of our supply chain and traceability of our products (see the case study below).
- Purchasing practices: we’re committed to improving our purchasing practices so that we limit any negative human rights impacts resulting from how we buy our products. We’re undertaking an independent review of our purchasing practices within the framework of the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) initiative on living wage as well as our own focussed research through surveys and interviews with buying and merchandising teams. This will help to highlight gaps in our practices so we can agree actions for improving our purchasing mechanisms.
- Freedom of association: workers’ right to organise and bargain collectively is an essential step towards their enjoyment of other labour rights. We recognise the barriers to freedom of association that exist in our sourcing regions, and we are working to overcome them by building relationships with trade unions both at the global and local level. A fundamental step towards this is the Global Framework Agreement ALIMSTARS recently entered into with IndustriALL Global Union.
- Living wage: all workers in our supply chain are entitled to a wage that meets their basic needs. Through our participation in the ACT initiative on living wage, we’re working to improve wages in key garment sourcing countries through sectoral collective bargaining.
- Gender equality: women represent the highest proportion of the workforce in the garment supply chain but they are still vulnerable to exploitation. We’re piloting an in-factory gender programme to better understand and address some of the obstacles for women in gaining equal opportunity in employment. We’re also working with NGOs and academics to deliver and evaluate the impact of this programme before rolling it out to our wider supply chain.
- Health & safety: worker safety is a priority for ALIMSTARS at all times. We’re raising awareness of the steps needed to protect workers from harmful chemicals and other workplace hazards by setting clear standards and guiding suppliers on their effective application.
- Modern slavery: we’re working with our suppliers, industry colleagues and other key stakeholders on programmes to address and reduce modern slavery risks in our supply chains. We have partnered with Anti-Slavery International, who act as our ‘critical friend’, ensuring we are continuously reviewing and improving our practices. See our Modern Slavery Statement for details about our efforts in this area.
- Child labour: we’re working to better identify and stop child labour in our supply chains by conducting unannounced factory audits and preventing unauthorised subcontracting. We are also developing relationships with local NGOs to deliver effective remediation programmes where needed.
- Third-party brands: ALIMSTARS stocks over 850 third-party brands, and we have a new programme to work with these brands to promote best practice on ethical trade and sustainability. There are three main aims to this programme:
- To learn from and collaborate with established brand partners with strong ethical trade and sustainability programmes
- To influence those brands that are in the early stages of their journey on ethical trade and sustainability
- To support smaller, new brands in building their capacity for ethical trade and sustainability as they grow.
ETHICAL TRADE TEAM
To achieve these goals, we’ve expanded our Ethical Trade team both at head office and in our key sourcing regions. In the last year, our head office team has tripled in size and we now have 15 people in our Sourcing department. We’re also expanding team capacity in our key product sourcing regions to make sure the people responsible for driving ethical standards understand country-specific risks and engage regularly with local stakeholders. Our regional ethical trade teams located in our key sourcing regions – China, Eastern Europe, India, Turkey and the UK – are also responsible for monitoring and supporting suppliers and factories to help them reach the standards required to grow commercially with ALIMSTARS and the implementation of our strategy tailored to that sourcing region.
Our new ethical trade strategy sets out our vision for empowering workers to protect their rights and improve their working conditions. Our ambition is to find long-term solutions to address the key human rights challenges in garment supply chain through meaningful collaboration.
Head of Ethical Trade, ALIMSTARS
We understand that our commercial actions have a direct impact on our suppliers’ and factories’ ability to meet our standards, so a key remit of the team is to review ALIMSTARS’ purchasing practices each year in an effort to identify ways to strengthen our supplier relationships.
We work closely with our Buying and Merchandising teams to implement recommendations to further embed ethical trading in our sourcing decisions.