ASOS urges brands to sign slavery pledge

27 March 2019

ASOS has called on its third-party brands to commit to ending slavery practices in supply chains.

Brands working with the online retailer, including River Island, Missguided, New Look and Dr Martens, signed a pledge during an event at the House of Lords to take measures to eliminate slavery.

The pledge included a commitment to map and assess modern slavery risks and to work collaboratively with other brands to develop resources to raise awareness of slavery in garment supply chains.

The brands also committed to ensure relevant staff are trained about modern slavery risks and to continue, and improve on, the publishing of modern slavery statements while demonstrating progress on tackling the issue annually.

Nick Beighton, CEO at ASOS, said: “With a growing legislative focus on modern slavery, there’s never been a better time to act together to drive systemic change in the industry.”

The event was attended by Baroness Lola Young, co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion.

Baroness Young said: “Exploitative, forced and child labour is bigger than any single company so it’s hugely encouraging to see competitive businesses recognising the role they can play in addressing the labour abuses that are sadly still so prevalent in fashion manufacturing around the world.”

An interim report published in January by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) found ASOS to be one of the UK’s most engaged retailers in reducing the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes they sell.

The retailer had signed up to several initiatives to improve labour and fair pay practices in supply chains including the Ethical Trading Initiative and Action, Collaboration, Transformation, an initiative led by retailers and global union IndustriALL.

The EAC noted: “ASOS was also the first online retailer to sign a Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL, signing up to the best possible standards on trade union rights, on health and safety, and on the labour relations by the company in its global operations.”

ASOS held its inaugural event at the House of Lords last year, where the retailer detailed modern slavery risks in key sourcing regions and encouraged attendees such as Burberry and French Connection to increase transparency and build capability to tackle the issue.

In January 2018, ASOS launched a programme to support more than 1,000 third-party brands to ensure they meet the retailer’s minimum requirements for ethical trade and sustainability.

The programme includes a requirement for transparency and ethical trade policies to be implemented across supply chains, as well as publishing modern slavery statements in the UK. By 2020, ASOS expects all brands sold on its site to meet those requirements.

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