Public disclosure of apparel and footwear industry data has a key role to play in the effort to secure practical and lasting improvements to labour and human rights in the sector, but only if the right people know where to find it, ICAR says

Public disclosure of apparel and footwear industry data has a key role to play in the effort to secure practical and lasting improvements to labour and human rights in the sector, but only if the right people know where to find it, ICAR says

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) has launched a free online data directory that connects advocates seeking to transform working conditions in the apparel and footwear industry with publicly accessible data that can make their efforts more effective.

Previously only available as an excel sheet, ApparelData.org is described as a "user-friendly, searchable online database" that provides information about publicly available data on working conditions in the apparel sector in one central place.

In a statement, ICAR says the directory fills a gap identified during a meeting among data-generating, data gathering, and policy advocacy organisations co-hosted by ICAR and C&A Foundation in October 2016.

During the meeting, participants highlighted that both advocates and data generating organisations themselves are often unaware of what data is already available and where it can be found. Without this information, advocates may miss key data that could strengthen their advocacy efforts, and data generating organisations may spend scarce resources producing data that is already available. 

"There are many initiatives working to increase transparency and generate good data on working conditions in the apparel sector," says Nicole Vander Meulen, advocacy counsel at ICAR. "But that information and data must be used to actually achieve real change on the ground. By providing a clear map of the data landscape, ApparelData.org will connect advocates with existing data to improve conditions and secure better industry practices."

ApparelData.org only includes data which has the potential to increase accountability on an ongoing basis, meaning that the data is publicly available, names specific entities—such as countries or brands—and is regularly updated and provided in a standardised format to enable comparison between peers and over time.

While the organisations currently included in the directory focus primarily on improving social performance in the industry, the ICAR says it welcomes organisations that disclose data on environmental performance as well.

"Public disclosure of apparel and footwear industry data has a key role to play in the effort to secure practical and lasting improvements to labour and human rights in the sector, but only if the right people know where to find it," ICAR says. "By bringing this information into one place, ApparelData.org makes it easier for advocates to find and use relevant data in their efforts to improve working conditions, while also connecting data generating organisations with one another to reduce duplication and encourage collaboration."