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24 Apr 2019


Why transparency is key to transforming the fashion industry

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Six years after Rana Plaza, the deadliest disaster in the garment industry, independent and transparent fire and building inspections by the Bangladesh Accord have transformed the safety of thousands of garment factories in the country, writes Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary, IndustriALL Global Union. Brands produce a lot of information about what they’re doing to improve conditions in their supply chains, but it’s only through transparency that this information can be verified. Transparency allows us to assess whether the strategies companies are using are effective, for example, checking to see if living wage strategies actually result in higher wages for workers. This year’s Transparency Index produced by Fashion Revolution shows that just 17 per cent of brands reveal how they’re implementing their approach to paying living wages to workers in their supply chains, and only 4 per cent report on their progress.With increased transparency, we can make the connection between corporate social responsibility policies and their impact on the ground. Extending transparency to cover purchasing practices is an essential next step. Whatever social responsibility measures a company is taking, these can be undermined by its own buying practices. There’s no point in brands saying they support decent working hours if they expect suppliers to meet increasingly tight lead times.