Crystal International Group produces around 350 million pieces of apparel a year

Crystal International Group produces around 350 million pieces of apparel a year

Hong Kong-based apparel manufacturing giant Crystal International says it is confident its work on female empowerment will benefit 40,000 of its employees across its global manufacturing base by 2022.

The international firm, which employs around 70,000 workers globally at 20 factories in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Sri Lanka, detailed its latest achievement in its ninth sustainability report published this week.

During the year, Crystal says it has continued its efforts with female worker empowerment with the implementation of the Crystal Advocates Respect and Engagement Programme (CARE), which aims to support them from achieving effectiveness to embracing breakthroughs.

The company says all 20 factories have joined the programme, which is expected to benefit 40,000 female workers across its global operations by 2022.

As well as female empowerment, Crystal has also been working to "improve and provide a safe workplace for all workers".

At the end of 2017, the firm's Bangladesh lifestyle wear factory completed remediation on all structural issues identified in the initial structural inspection by the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

At its Bangladesh sweater factory, remediation work has reached a 96% completion rate and Crystal has pledged to continue its efforts this year. In 2017, the factory also arranged basic fire safety awareness training for all employees including security guards to educate staff about precautions and protection in case of an emergency.

Also last year, two of Crystal's Bangladesh factories started a collaboration with Better Work – a comprehensive programme that brings together all levels of the garment industry to improve working conditions and to respect labour rights, which was jointly created with United Nation's International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

In 2018, Better Work will arrange a series of training and awareness programmes on gender equality, grievance handling and leadership skills for Crystal's Bangladesh factories. With the partnership, the company aims to build industrial relations, improve working conditions, productivity, and the quality of work for its factory workers.

Crystal, which floated on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in a near $500m IPO last November, makes denim, athleisure wear, sweaters and intimates for brands and retailers including Uniqlo, H&M, Victoria's Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Marks & Spencer, Puma, North Face, Levi's, Gap and Under Armour.

In September, the company embarked on its third set of five-year sustainability targets, adding new social indicators to the goals it hopes to accomplish by 2022. These included reducing carbon footprint per garment by 10%, reducing fresh water consumption per garment by 8%, and engaging employees in 10,000 volunteering hours.

To help achieve this, Crystal has made a number investments, including employing washing machines with nanotechnology to save more than 90% of water and over 80% of chemicals usage, installing steam heat exchange devices on dryers, and replacing inefficient equipment.

"Going forward, we embark on a journey of quality cost reduction by continuously incorporating the innovative technology and automation that we are developing, bringing consistency to quality with higher efficiency. As product integrity is one of the five pillars supporting Crystal International's Sustainability framework, we are committed to ensuring quality is met in each of our apparel manufacturing process in the pursuit of sustainable development of the group."