High street chain to boycott unethical vendors

29 April 2010

29 April 2010 | Allie Anderson

Retailer H&M will permanently blacklist suppliers who use child labour and fail to meet its code of conduct.

In its 2009 sustainability report, published this week, the firm said any vendors who fell short of its standards – which regulate practices such as the use of child labour, paying workers the minimum wage and providing safe factory conditions – would be permanently rejected if they failed to make improvements.

The Swedish fashion giant last year revised its code of conduct to incorporate a focus on supplier management systems and to provide clearer and more structured guidelines. 

As part of this, it is reassessing its supplier grading system, which measures compliance to social and environmental responsibility, to give vendors a percentage score that incorporates better management systems. In order to promote compliance to its code of conduct, H&M held training courses and workshops for some 125 suppliers in China and Bangladesh to address issues such as workers’ rights, health and safety and legal compliance.

Other factors of H&M’s CSR report include a commitment to “responsible purchasing”. As part of this, H&M buyers are urged to focus on “negotiating not bargaining”, to pay suppliers on time and promote open discussion of volume and lead times.

It has also pledged to reduce the environmental impact of its raw materials by increasing its use of organic cotton to 15,000 tonnes by 2013 and reducing its carbon emissions relative to sales by a minimum of 5 per cent to the previous year until 2012. In its stores, it is switching to low flush toilets, using low energy light bulbs and last year, 79 per cent of H&M coat hangers were recycled. 

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