Snowboard gear specialist Burton has received accreditation from the Fair Labor Association (FLA) for its supply chain social responsibility programme – a move that confirms it understands the consequences of its business practices on workplace conditions and has implemented systems to successfully uphold fair labour standards.
Burton became a participating company of the FLA in 2016. The organisation works to promote and protect workers’ rights and improve workplace conditions, and its accreditation process is a multi-year examination of a company’s labour compliance programme.
Accreditation requires companies to meet benchmarks that fully align with the International Labour Organization, UN Guiding Principles, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“FLA accreditation is a major accomplishment that Burton is incredibly proud of, but this work is never finished,” the company said in a blog post. “We are committed to continuous progression in our supply chain practices to improve the wellbeing of all workers that make our products. Success in sustainability means moving the benchmark forward for ourselves and across the industry.”
Headquartered in Vermont, Burton’s product line has expanded over the last 43 years to include gear that supports snowsports and the mountain lifestyle from helmets and goggles to boards, boots, bindings, outerwear, apparel, packs, and camping equipment.
The company works with 74 different finished goods suppliers worldwide and has developed international operations as a brand, retailer, and snowboard manufacturer.
“We have also established partnerships with factories around the world to produce our broad range of products beyond boards. Particularly in the textile industry, the prevalence of unethical conditions in factories is well documented and heartbreaking. We, as a brand, want to affect positive change for our people, our factories, and create ripples in the industry as a whole by trying to fix a broken system,” it said.
“Rather than avoid challenges or disengage, we choose to lean in as global citizens and use our business as a force for good.”
In 2012, the business established the Burton supplier Code of Conduct – the principles which all manufacturing partners must uphold if they want to do business with it.
“We audit suppliers according to strict social responsibility standards in order to understand the greatest risks that factory workers face and to establish corrective action plans for suppliers’ practices. Over a five-year period, we made difficult decisions to end relationships with nearly half of the factories we had previously partnered with, driven in part by their inability or unwillingness to meet Burton’s social responsibility standards.
“We’re committed to cultivating long-term, healthy, transparent supplier relationships which place people and planet at front and centre. We help suppliers build toward best practices to protect factory workers, human health, and the environment. We conduct trainings when significant issues are found, support factory-specific sustainability projects, and host biennial supplier summits to reaffirm our brand commitments and expectations.”
While Burton said it has built strong relationships with suppliers, it acknowledges that is rarely a major customer for an individual factory, representing less than 20% of volume for more than 80% of the factories manufacturing its products.
“This means that in order to promote the well being of the roughly 75,000 workers employed by our suppliers, we have to work collaboratively to create change at the industry level,” it explained.