Blog: Leonie BarrieTop marks for compliance

Leonie Barrie | 26 November 2010

Sweatshop conditions in the global supply chains of US companies have been stirring controversy since the mid-1990s. A combination of outsourced production with its longer and more difficult to scrutinise supply base, along with claims of alleged workplace abuses at factories manufacturing for some of the world’s largest brands, have persuaded many apparel firms to put significant resources into compliance.

But what happens next is more difficult to quantify. Vendor codes of conduct seek to ensure worker rights and decent working conditions in global factories. But what exactly do they involve, and how have working conditions improved?

These were the questions that prompted corporate responsibility group As You Sow to compile what’s thought to be the first publicly available scorecard to evaluate the compliance programs of many of the top apparel companies doing business in the US. Its results make interesting reading. While it’s comforting to know the hard work by names like Levi Strauss, Wal-Mart Stores, Gap Inc, Hanesbrands, Gildan Activewear and Nordstrom has paid off, other popular brands are lagging. Their names may surprise you.


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