Bangladesh: Fair Action reports that Nordic banks fail to hold H&M and other brands accountable to living wage promises

Bangladesh_Garment Industry_Living Wage_Fair Action Report_Credit_BD Apparel News_04.02.2019


In February 2019, Fair Action released a report exploring, among other things, the role of Nordic banks (as shareholders) in holding H&M accountable to its promise to ensure living wages for garment workers in its supply chain by 2018, particularly in Bangladesh. Fair Action studied 14 banks, finding that "none of the banks are doing enough to push for living wages" and, specifically, that "the banks have not demanded that the garment companies set concrete objectives in terms of measurable wage increases." 

We invited Länsförsäkringar, Skandia Mutual Life; Handels Banken; Danske Bank, Swedbank, Nordea, SEB Group, DNB, Storebrand, KLP, Sparebank 1 Nord-Norge, Sparebank 1 SR-Bank, Sparebank 1 SMN, Sparebank 1 Østlandet, Sparebank 1 Østlandet to respond to the allegations.

Nordea and Danske Bank chose not to respond. 

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3 March 2019

Swedbank’s response to the Fair Action report “Broke in Bangladesh”

Author: Katarina Heissenberger, Analyst, Responsible Investments, Swedbank, Sweden

Swedbank Robur outperforms the other investors in the report by Fair Action, both in the total comparison as well as regarding engagement per company. Swedbank is also the most active owner with own, direct engagement dialogues with textile and apparel brands specifically targeting wage.

 However, we are not satisfied at this level. Human Rights and labour standards are central in Swedbank Robur’s company analyses. In textile production these issues are extra exposed and we follow the development closely. Already in 2002 Swedbank Robur raised directly with apparel brands, the need for social risk assessments in their supply chains. Swedbank early identified wage as a material sustainability issue in apparel and included it in engagement dialogues with companies starting 2012. Thereby we have contributed to bringing these issues to the agenda of companies and we have pushed them further regarding open and transparent communication of their actions and results. We have a responsibility and we will continue our engagement with companies around fair living wages.

Company non-response
3 March 2019

Danske Bank did not respond

We invited Danske Bank to respond to the report by Fair Action; it did not.

Company non-response
3 March 2019

No response from Nordea to the Fair Action report “Broke in Bangladesh”

We invited Nordea to respond; it did not.