Annual topic 2020: “Gender-based violence in textile supply chains”


Annual topic 2020: “Gender-based violence in textile supply chains”

Gender Based Violence Illustration, auf einer orange-farbenen Hand steht STOP, im Hintergrund Garnrollen

Sexual and gender-specific violence describes violence against people based on their gender and affects mainly women and girls, but also men and boys, although to a lesser extent. Gender-specific violence encompasses all violent acts that cause physical, emotional, psychological or sexual harm and suffering. This may also include denial of resources or access to services. Generally, gender-specific violence is based on gender norms and unequal power relations.

Gender-specific violence against women is a widespread problem. Estimates suggest that 35 percent of all women worldwide have already experienced gender-based violence. About 80 percent of all employees in the global fashion industry are women. Working conditions are often precarious and violence against women occurs far too frequently, as various studies have shown.

  • In a survey conducted by CARE in textile factories in Cambodia, almost every third female employee stated that she had been sexually harassed at work in the last twelve months.
  • According to a survey by Better Work, 85 percent of the female textile workers in Indonesia are worried about sexual harassment.
  • Moreover, in a survey by the Fair Wear Foundation in Bangladesh, over 60 percent of women textile workers reported having been victims of gender-based violence.
Adoption of ILO Convention 190

June 21, 2019 was a groundbreaking date in the fight against gender-based violence: The International Labour Conference adopted the ILO Convention 190 to end violence and harassment in the workplace. The Convention highlights gender-specific violence and harassment and formulates concrete requirements that companies must comply with.

Christina Stockfisch of the DGB considers this as a milestone. She was actively involved in the negotiations and thinks:

“The ILO Convention is the first international standard in this area. It provides the first globally valid definition of sexual harassment and violence, and it does not refer to the workplace alone, but to the world of work in general, thus developing a far greater scope of protection for workers”.

Read the interview with Christina Stockfisch on the ILO Convention 190 and the status of implementation..

Christina Stockfisch Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund
Companies must report on the sector risk in the review process

Gender-specific violence falls under the sector risk of discrimination. In the 2021 review process, members of the partnership will - for the first time - be required to analyze, address and report on gender-specific risks in their supply chain.

Making the topic mandatory in the review process is also a direct response to the recognition that gender-specific violence is still an often-neglected topic. The evaluation of the roadmaps of the 2019 review process showed that almost no company had taken measures against discrimination against women in their supply chain. Possible approaches could, for instance, include raising awareness of the problem among textile workers or supporting internal factory committees.

Fear and lack of awareness are hindering factors for a comprehensive analysis of the subject

In practice, identifying and addressing gender-based violence in global supply chains presents a major challenge. Victims often shy away from talking about their experiences. Research and project experiences show that three conditions are required: Time, trust and a safe space. Victims often prefer to abstractly refer to harassment experiences of others rather than talking about their own.

Furthermore, there is often a lack of awareness among employees of what gender-based violence exactly means. Very few know that it includes verbal abuse, discrimination in job selection or illegal dismissal of pregnant women.

Annual topic in the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles

Against the backdrop these developments and challenges, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has chosen gender-specific violence as its annual topic for 2020. ALDI Nord, ALDI Süd, Brands Fashion, CARE, DGB, FEMNET, Gerry Weber, GOTS, JBC, Mantis World, NKD, s.Oliver, Takko Fashion and Waschbär participate in an expert group which aims to work on the topic along the three pillars of the partnership, meaning to accompany members in the 2021 review process, to promote joint initiatives and to create support and exchange formats for companies.

In a first online introductory seminar, organized with the support of FEMNET, members had the opportunity to learn about the sector risk of discrimination. The following questions were addressed:

  • What is gender-based violence?
  • Which international standards apply?
  • What are the challenges in producing countries?

In order to support members in the 2021 review process in analyzing the gender-specific risks in their supply chains, the partnership secretariat prepared country-specific fact sheets on gender-specific violence in countries such as India, Bangladesh and Vietnam.

In September, the partnership secretariat also organizes a webinar on "Addressing the Gender Data Gap". Women are often overlooked by the due diligence obligations of companies, as the current report of the UN Working Group on the Gender Dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights reveals.

One reason for this is a lack of gender-specific data. Information on women in value chains has so far been largely fragmented and anecdotal. Especially female workers in the upstream supply chain are often completely invisible. However, gender-sensitive data and its analysis are, in fact, important steps towards closing due diligence gaps of companies. Hence, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles wants to enter into a discussion on these issues with its members.

Members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles share their experiences on workplace committees on harassment

At the beginning of the year, the expert group identified two priority topics: Social audits and workplace committees on harassment in factories. At the work meeting in April 2020, partnership member Takko Fashion reported on its experiences in setting up factory committees together with the independent partner Fair Wear Foundation in Bangladesh.

The committees' task is to educate textile workers about gender-specific violence and to manage concrete complaints within the factory. According to Takko Fashion, important preconditions for the committees’ work are acceptance and participation on the part of the factory management, but also close and long-term relationships with suppliers. Challenges such as high staff turnover, monitoring of committees and the difficulty of finding qualified trainers were also discussed.

Despite all the difficulties, Iryna Makoveienko from Takko Fashion draws a positive conclusion:

“Working with the committees requires patience and endurance. But the results are positive. And this is why we are planning to extend the work with the committees to all our suppliers in Bangladesh”.

Guidance to integrate gender-based violence in social audits

Brand and retail companies often use social audits to monitor working conditions at factory level. Therefore, it is important that gender-specific violence is properly addressed in these social audits. However, this is unfortunately often not the case (HRW 2019). Factory audits and interviews by male auditors are the norm and do not create a safe space for female employees to speak openly about experiences of gender-based violence.

Therefore, the expert group of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles develops guidanceto effectively embed gender-specific violence in social audits. The guidance aims to sensitize brands to the limitations of social audits and to support them in designing social audits in a gender-sensitive manner – in order to integrate them usefully into their due diligence processes.

NKD, for example, started to design social audits in a more gender-sensitive way a few years ago.

Mali Stelzer, NKD

Mali Stelzer from NKD explains: 

“At NKD we have had positive experiences with off-site interviews to identify gender-specific violence within the supply chain. The interviews take place at a neutral location, after work, far away from the factory premises. In this neutral atmosphere, workers can report their experiences at work openly without fear of reprisals. It is also important that the interviews are conducted by same-sex interlocutors.”

COVID-19 intensifies the problems

Since March 2020, textile workers, suppliers, brands and retail companies were confronted with immense and unforeseen challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis also has gender-specific effects because women make up the largest part of the working population in the clothing sector and are therefore over proportionally affected by the rising unemployment in the textile sector.

Women garment workers often have the lowest paid jobs in factories and struggle with health problems, financial insecurity, risks of violence and a high burden of care work - both at work and at home. COVID-19 has increased these risks.

In an online workshop in May 2020 , partnership members discussed gender-specific effects of the crisis on textile workers as well as possibilities for engagement and remedies. CARE initiated the discussion, presenting the results of their rapid gender assessments from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia and Myanmar, as well as planned emergency relief measures.

Subsequently, the ALDI SÜD Group decided to support CARE's emergency aid measures.

Kathrin Raabe comments: 

“As women are particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, the ALDI SÜD Group has decided to support CARE's COVID-19 fund. We were able to provide emergency aid and help textile workers in Bangladesh and Myanmar through direct financial support, the provision of hygiene kits and psychological support in cases of gender-based violence”.

Kathrin Raabe ALDI Süd
Cooperation between the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, German development cooperation and BSR

Based on this online workshop, BSR, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, and German development cooperation currently develop the HERessentials cooperation project . The project mainly aims at responding to the increased risks for women during and after the crisis. Fields of action include hygiene and pandemic prevention, gender-based violence, digital financial services and financial planning, nutrition and family planning, communication at the workplace and stress management.

In addition to training for workers, close cooperation with the factory management is also planned. The focus is thereby on the process of reopening production facilities after temporary closures and gender-sensitive communication with workers in stressful situations. The training content is currently being digitalized to ensure that the measures can be carried out despite the pandemic and distancing rules.

While the GIZ sector project Multi-Stakeholder-Partnerships in the Textile Sector promotes the development and digitization of these measures, the GIZ regional project FABRIC plans to pilot the measures in supplier factories. In addition, FABRIC will coordinate the involvement of local stakeholders such as interest groups of employers and employees.

The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles plans to accompany the project focusing on the exchange of learning and experiences, thereby cooperating closely with FABRIC to enable an exchange of experience not only for brands but also within the Asian region. Partnership members can nominate supplier companies for the pilot. They can gain access to the tools which have been developed and reflect together on learning experiences through the project support in place.

Judith Kunert, Bündnissekretariat

The next year will show how the work of the partnership on this important topic will develop. Judith Kunert from the Partnership secretariat finds:

“2020 has been a difficult year in the fight against gender-based violence. After the major milestone of the adoption of ILO Convention 190 in 2019, 2020 was marked by regression and standstill due to the corona crisis. Nevertheless, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles has managed to launch several initiatives and support services for its members. We will see in 2021 how these will be taken up and who is going to participate”.

Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu

Our Partnership Initiative in Tamil Nadu in southern India also focuses on the promotion and education of female workers. You can find more information on the website of the Partnership Initiative..

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

New Strategic Cooperation with the Organic Cotton Accelerator


New Strategic Cooperation with the Organic Cotton Accelerator

Joint Action to Promote Organic Cotton

We are proud to announce our strategic cooperation with the Organic Cotton Accelerator. The cooperation of the two multi stakeholder initiatives is to promote the availability of organic cotton and to improve the alignment of supply and demand.

This should facilitate the procurement of organic cotton for fashion companies, retailers as well as suppliers, while boosting the positive impact of organic cotton on people, planet and prosperity at the farm-level. Through this strategic collaboration the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles encourages and supports its members who wish to establish direct relationships with organic cotton farmers through the OCA platform and to provide those farmers with targeted support.

These measures contribute to the joint goal of the Partnership members : By 2025, the share of sustainable cotton is has to be increased to a total of min. 70 percent of which 20 percentage points have to come from certified organic cotton.

The cooperation focuses on the following areas:
  • awareness and knowledge of brands, retailers and farmers on practical approaches and solutions to improve the availability and impact of organic cotton
  • Sharing of resources and capacity buildingfor small-scale farmers and multipliers for efficient and beneficial cultivation of organic cotton
  • Jointly develop supporting tools for brands and retailers to provide relevant information for sustainable sourcing.
The Future of Organic Cotton Farming

The organic cotton available worldwide covers less than 1% of the total quantity of cotton. Consequently, brands struggle to meet their demands with the organic cotton available while small-scale farmers often do not have the capacities and support needed to grow cotton according to organic criteria. Therefore, coming together as a sector to create the conditions for organic cotton to thrive is now needed more than ever.

“At OCA, we support farm-level interventions because we believe that by supporting the farmer, we strengthen the sector and we safeguard the planet. For this positive effect to be fully realised; we need commitment and collaboration across the whole sector. The Partnership for Sustainable Textiles understands the power of collaboration and knows that by pooling forces, their members can use their combined strengths to initiate broader change in production countries. With this strategic cooperation, we aim to mobilise and support more brands and retailers in taking tangible action in their own supply chains to secure their organic cotton at the farm level and deliver tangible benefits to farmers, such as better prices and secure offtake for their organic cotton and access to organic seeds and training. By working in unison, we can achieve so much more than acting alone.” - Bart Vollaard, OCA Executive Director.

"The market for certified organic cotton poses one of the mysteries in our efforts for a fairer and more sustainable textiles and garment industry: Brands and retailers say they struggle to get their hands on the material whilst many farmers complain that they have to sell their organic produce through conventional channels without any premiums. By entering into a strategic cooperation with OCA, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles strives to increase the leverage for change in organic cotton supply chains to solve this mystery and increase production and availability of certified organic cotton. Building more and stronger links between supply and demand plays an important role in this endeavour as this will reduce risk at farm level thus enabling more small-scale farmers to convert their production to organic and sell their produce at a premium." Jürgen Janssen, Head of the Partnership Secretariat.

Organic Cotton Accelerator

The Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is the only multi-stakeholder organisation dedicated to organic cotton. As a global platform, OCA is committed to bringing integrity, supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton.

OCA unites the sector to unleash the potential of organic cotton because the MSI envisions a future where we have fully realised the Organic Cotton Effect - organic cotton’s powerful and positive impact on people, planet and prosperity.

Since the establishment in 2016, with founding partners Laudes Foundation, H&M, Kering, Eileen Fisher, Textile Exchange, Tchibo, Inditex and C&A, OCA has been committed to convening the sector around a common agenda and using our platform’s collective investments to act as a catalyst for change.

At OCA, special attention is paid to two central measures: firstly, the support of small farmers through training and premium payments to strengthen the business case for organic cotton farming and secondly; the promotion of environmentally friendly practices in organic cotton cultivation.

The main instrument of the initiative is the optimisation of common procurement practices amongst its members. This means enhancing farmer profitability and prosperity, contributing to environmental sustainability, and ultimately bolstering the integrity of the cotton sector. This cotton season of 2020/21, procurement projects led by partner brands cover around 23,000 farmers in five Indian states (Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan). Building on the past successes of its programmes, OCA is currently developing its Strategy Plan for 2030 and planning to expand its geographic scope to other key-producing countries beyond India.

Further information about the vision and activities can be found at OCA´s website..

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

New Guide to Supply Chain Transparency


New Guide to Supply Chain Transparency

Supply chain transparency is a prerequisite to fulfill basic due diligence requirements. Only if brands know where, how and by whom their garments and textiles are produced can they take concrete measures to effectively counter social, environmental and corruption risks in their supply chain.

The Textiles Partnership has now published a new guide that supports brands in gradually achieving more transparency in their supply chain. It provides them with the necessary information to be able to map the supply chain and the stakeholders involved, also beyond direct business partners and to create more transparency and disclose supply chain data to a broader public.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

New seminars and exchange formats from August to December 2020


New seminars and exchange formats from August to December 2020

In the upcoming months, the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles will again offer its members a range of support services and exchange formats. This year we have converted all seminars to online formats.

The practical workshop series "Sustainable supply chain management in times of and after COVID-19" in August and September will deal, amongst others, with the following questions:

  • How can human rights implications be considered in business decisions even in difficult times?
  • How can monitoring be strengthened through greater worker involvement?
  • How can supply chain management be made more sustainable through cooperation within the company?

In addition, an accompanying programme about the conduct of the company's individual risk analysiswill start in October. Knowledge of the most important risks along the supply chain is the basis for the 2021 review process in the Textiles Partnership. On three dates, participants will be able to exchange information on the individual steps of the risk analysis and learn from each other.

In addition, two online seminars are held in cooperation with other partners: On 20 August, the BMZ Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation will present possibilities for sourcing textiles from Africa. And on 10 September the Fair Wear Foundation will give an introduction to its Labour Minute and Product Costing Calculators.

Further information can be found in the flyer. Participation is reserved for representatives of members of the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and Grüner-Knopf certified companies.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Companies write a letter to the Indian Government


Companies write a letter to the Indian Government

49 companies, which purchase in India, have approached the Indian government with a joint letter. In the letter, they request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to maintain international labour standards. 14 Members of the Textiles Partnership have also signed the letter.

The integration of international labour standards into national or local law is an important prerequisite for ensuring compliance with minimum standards such as working hours, trade union freedom or health and safety at work. Many Partnership members are thus concerned about current developments in some Indian states.

With the aim of increasing the competitiveness of the factories again after the long lockdown due to COVID-19, adjustments in labour law have been proposed there. These adjustments could result in the labour law no longer corresponding to what is set down in International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions as well as in the Partnership´s social objectives .

49 companies which purchase in India - including 14 Partnership members - are thus now addressing the Indian Prime Minister in a joint letter. In the letter, they are asking the government to continue to legislatively enshrine the rights of workers.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Partnership Initiative Wastewater starts


Partnership Initiative Wastewater starts

Today, the Partnership Initiative Wastewater starts with a planned term of two years. The Initiative continues the successfully completed Partnership Initiative Chemical and Environmental Management Despite the current challenges caused by COVID 19, 13 members of the Textiles Partnership have joined forces, including companies, associations and the Federal Government.

The common goal is to work on the establishment of a sustainable wastewater management within the textile supply chain. In the long term, this will reduce negative environmental impacts in the producing countries, lower the concentration of hazardous chemicals and prevent the use of harmful substances in textile production.

Detailed information, an overview of the modules and a factsheet on the new Partnership Initiative can be found on the detailed page.Please also find the press release on the launch of the new Partnership Initiative.

If you have any questions about the new Partnership Initiative Wastewater or would like to participate, please do not hesitate to contact Rahel Lemke.

These members are part of it:

ALDI Nord, ALDI SÜD, Bluesign Technologies, Brands Fashion, Bundesverband der Deutschen Sportartikel Industrie (BSI), EDEKA-Verbund, F3 Fashion Cube, German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt - UBA), Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung - BMZ), KiK, Oeko-Tex, Takko, Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC).

vielzählige Logos von Bündnismitgliedern
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Purchasing Practices: Pre-COVID-19 self-assessment provides valuable insights

9 June 2020

Purchasing Practices: Pre-COVID-19 self-assessment provides valuable insights

Joint report of AGT and PST based on tool developed by ACT underlines importance of responsible purchasing practices in times of crisis.

Through their collaboration with the ACT initiative (Action, Collaboration, Transformation) the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile (AGT) and the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles (PST) aim to jointly establish the conditions for responsible purchasing practices within the industry. The joint report released today shows the aggregate results of the Purchasing Practices Self-Assessment (PPSA) of 42 AGT and PST companies. This assessment took place prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The results provide a mixed picture: Whereas some responsible purchasing practices (such as ‘Changes to Orders’ and ‘Terms of Payment’) are already in place and effective, some areas (such as ‘Price Quotation’ and 'Incentives and Compliance Scoring') demand considerable improvement across the majority of companies. Likewise, some results indicate that companies’ handling of purchasing practices differs strongly.

These insights are very valuable, both at the individual as well as the collective level. Recognising that this was first and foremost an internal assessment, companies should now ask their suppliers for feedback on their own purchasing practices to get a more complete picture. At the same time, concrete action beyond this analysis is needed. Companies should use their leverage, continue dialogue with their suppliers and set ambitious goals to improve their purchasing practices. Read the full report.

Importance of purchasing practices

This report reflects the results of self-assessments of companies just before the corona crisis turned the world upside down. The crisis also had major effects on the garment and textile sector. Moreover, the crisis put the purchasing practices of AGT and PST companies to an extreme test.

Two interviewees respond to this new situation as follows: 'The crisis has drawn attention to the shortcomings of the industry’s purchasing practices. We therefore believe that this will remain a key topic for years to come. The PPSA can play a vital role in providing a basis for discussions and reflecting on improvement measures taken,' says Kathrin Raabe, Senior Manager Corporate Responsibility International, ALDI SÜD (represented by HOFER KG).

Daphne Zita van Esveld, Sustainability Coordinator of America Today adds: 'In order to maintain and advance good working conditions it is important to address our purchasing practices. Due to the Corona virus, vulnerabilities and risks on both sides of the supply chain have grown. This makes it even more important to have insights in your own purchasing practices. The PPSA tool helps to obtain these insights.'

About the tool

In summer 2019, PST launched an online tool for its member companies to assess their purchasing practices, based on the content of the Purchasing Practices Self-Assessment developed by ACT. Utilising this tool, a significant number of forward thinking AGT and PST companies have started to analyse their own purchasing practices, compare themselves with other companies, raise awareness internally, and discuss next steps in adapting purchasing practices by making them more sustainable and enabling progress.

Next steps

Industry-wide sustainable purchasing practices are necessary to enable suppliers to make progress towards decent working conditions and paying a living wage. AGT and PST will keep on supporting their signatories/members on this path: both initiatives will further intensify their already existing guidance and trainings, both at the company as well as the supplier level. Likewise, PST, AGT and ACT aim to continue their cooperation concerning tools and trainings on purchasing practices. AGT and PST also signed the joint statement on responding responsibly to the corona crisis, including protecting worker income and health.

Other paths to progress will also be continued. In 2019, PST and AGT started to collaborate with the Fair Wear Foundation to host trainings on living wages linked to purchasing practices. Trainings will be continued in various production countries across Asia and Eastern Europe.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Working Meeting 2020: 1 Livestream, 9 online workshops, 7 Market Booths


Working Meeting 2020: 1 Livestream, 9 online workshops, 7 Market Booths

Informing, playing a part, exchanging views: All this was offered at this year's Working Meeting of the Textiles Partnership on April 21st. Due to the corona virus, not in Cologne as planned, but virtually here on the website for the first time. The recordings of the online workshops and the market booths are still available.
Livestream: Update from the Partnership and Input

The COVID-19 crisis surpasses the capacity of individual actors and affects each member differently. The effects of the crisis on the work of the Textiles Partnership were presented by the head of the Partnership Secretariat Jürgen Janssen in a live stream at the beginning of the Working Meeting: Only through collective action, a partnership approach and shared responsibility can the effects be mitigated, especially at the present time, and the goal of a sustainable textile supply chain be further pursued.

Karl-Hendrik Magnus from McKinsey explained the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on the garment and fashion industry based on a study by the consulting firm. Among other things, a consolidation of brand companies and suppliers is to be expected, with a stronger orientation of consumers towards health and sustainability and a more flexible design of supply chains. Details and figures from the McKinsey study will be published shortly in the Sourcing Journal.

Recordings of the online workshops

The nine online workshops covered a broad spectrum, ranging from Circular Economy, Risk Assessment, Supply-Chain Mapping to Complaint Mechanisms. Of course, the current developments and effects of the COVID 19 pandemic also played a role in many areas. We are pleased that we were able to gain around 20 experts* for the workshops. More than 100 people followed the sessions per session. The recordings of the following online workshops can still be viewed via the links in the Programme :

  • 1a Adoption of the ILO Convention 190 –what next? Measures against gender-based violence in textile supply chains
  • 2a SMARTe Ziele formulieren – Fit für den Review-Prozess (recording in German)
  • 2b Reduktion von pre-consumer waste ( recording in German)
  • 3a Verantwortungsvolle Einkaufspraktiken – wo stehen die Unternehmen im Bündnis und was bedeutet „verantwortungsvoll“ in der jetzigen Zeit? (recording in German)
  • 3b Water Stewardship
  • 4a Lieferkettenmanagement in der digitalen Welt – Das Potential von Blockchain (recording in German)
  • 6a Man-Made-Cellulosics“CanopyStyle Audit“ practical mapping tool
The Market Booths will also stay online

The Marketplace with its seven market booths will also remain online. Here you can find some information, documents, pictures and videos of:

  • Water Stewardship, WWF
  • HERrespect, Business for Social Responsibility
  • Protecting the Rights of Women Workers during COVID-19, CARE
  • Chemical Trainings, Systain
  • Partnership Initiative Tamil Nadu
  • Projects worldwide, Project Database of the Textiles Partnership
  • Green Button (Grüner Knopf)

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Detoxing the Fashion Industry for Dummies


Detoxing the Fashion Industry for Dummies

Written by ZDHC Executive Director Frank Michel, the book simplifies complex realities and offers valuable insights into how to take action and implement already proven innovations to accelerate change.

The book is a freely available manual to empower fashion brands - big and small - to get the insights and information needed to detox their supply chains. And to enable customers to differentiate a greenwash from a stonewash when it comes to their textile choices.

Bild Buch Detoxing the Fashion Industry

As a guide to this sustainable fashion revolution in chemistry it is packed with details about how apparel production works, what goes into the process, how it can impact the environment and tangible actions taken by brands to solve this.


At our page on Chemical and Environmental Management you find further information about responsible chemicalmanagement, good housekeeping, our trainings and material.

Share this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Responding responsibly to the COVID-19 crisis


Responding responsibly to the COVID-19 crisis

Logos verschiedener Mulit-Stakeholder-Initiatives

Find a PDF version of the joint statement here.

Joint priorities for the garment sector

We have come together as a group of organisations working on responsible business conduct in the garment industry to collaborate in these unprecedented times. Together we represent close to 2000 garment brands and retailers committed to improving working conditions. As a group with shared interests, we are exchanging resources, tools, good practices, and guidance for our members and supporting advocacy with governments and multilateral institutions.

Two priorities that urgently need our attention in response to COVID-19 and its impact on the garment industry and its workers:

1) Protecting worker income and health

The impact of COVID-19 has magnified existing inequalities, systemic vulnerabilities, and challenges in global garment supply chains. The health and livelihoods of millions of garment workers and their families – who often cannot rely on savings, loans, or public safety nets – are at risk. The majority of garment workers are women, often concentrated in low-pay, low-power positions, underrepresented in unions and with additional unpaid child, elderly and sick care duties. COVID-19 has put them at a particular risk, not only for their immediate health but also for their immediate and long-term financial situation.

We call upon brands, retailers, suppliers, governments, trade unions, industry associations, civil society and multilateral organisations to work together to enable factories to maintain employment relationships and make changes in the workplace in order to protect the health of garment workers.

Factories must ensure on-time payment of salaries to workers who remain actively employed. If facilities have to close temporarily, it should be a top priority of all stakeholders to support workers directly or in accessing finances to bridge this period that they cannot work. When worker retrenchment cannot be avoided due to long-term factory closure or bankruptcy, all workers should receive their full legal entitlements, including wages, benefits, and severance pay.

2) Future-proofing supply chains

COVID-19 has massively disrupted the current way of doing business. While the immediate effects of the crisis have been severe, the situation offers a unique opportunity to rebuild structures in a more sustainable and fair way. A key point of attention will be building functioning social protection floors for workers, including unemployment benefits.  Fair and collaborative relationships between retailers, brands, and suppliers, as well as prices that cover the cost of responsible production, should form the foundation of future global supply chains.

We welcome the global call to action COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry setting out priorities and commitments for joint industry action to respond to the pandemic. We plan to align each other and other key stakeholders to implement these two priorities.

A joint call to action to the garment sector

This first joint statement is focused on the crisis and early recovery phase and:

  • calls upon governments and multilateral institutions for action; and
  • provides practical guidance on how brands can respect the rights and livelihoods of workers.

We are working on additional guidance concerning the recovery phase and post-COVID-19 period.

Call on governments and multilateral institutions

Instant relief for international supply chains

Governments of garment-producing countries certainly have a duty to protect and care for their citizens. We also call upon governments of countries where the head offices of our member brands and retailers are based to take into consideration the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak throughout global supply chains. We call upon our governments to coordinate with multilateral institutions to provide relief funds directly to garment workers and prioritize employment when providing relief to companies.

Long-term improvements

This crisis demonstrates the need for long-term, sector-wide improvements securing social protection floors for workers in sourcing countries. We call upon governments and multilateral institutions to establish and maintain strong social protection floors, and to extend social protection for workers and employers in the garment industry, consistent with ILO standards including health and sickness benefits, unemployment, employment injury, and medical insurance, involving trade unions and industry associations in the process.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of garment supply chains, we call on governments to financially support a collaborative, coordinated approach to create and strengthen these social protection floors in producing countries.

Call on brands and retailers

We understand garment brands and retailers are facing extremely difficult times and are focused on keeping business afloat. Despite these challenging circumstances, companies must continue to uphold principles of responsible business conduct. This includes understanding how their decisions during the crisis will impact workers in their supply chain and doing everything they can to mitigate negative impacts. We provide country-specific guidance on our websites (see annex) to help members stay updated on the situation in production countries and encourage them to pay close attention to concerns flagged by local stakeholders; in particular trade unions. We call on companies to communicate transparently about the measures they take in this crisis to ensure accountability and peer learning.

Each organization is working directly with its members to provide more detailed guidance, resources, and examples of good practices (see annex). We call upon our members and all garment brands and retailers to implement the following key responsible practices during the crisis and initial recovery phase.

Responsible sourcing decisions

  • Maintain frequent and transparent dialogue with all supply chain partners on sourcing decisions and look for collaborative solutions. No unilateral decisions should be taken.
  • We expect retailers and brands to honour their obligations and pay in full for orders completed or in progress.
  • If orders cannot be completed, we expect retailers and brands to prioritize covering labour costs, as well as materials or other costs that have already been incurred.
  • We expect companies to work hard to minimise the ongoing impact upon workers who will already be facing difficult circumstances.
  • Collaborate with suppliers on orders for upcoming months to identify alternatives to cancelling orders and treat order cancellations as a last resort.
  • Anticipate changes or delays in production and be flexible about delivery dates, payment terms, and financial liability.
  • Do not terminate the business relationship with your supplier without first having discussed scenarios and solutions with your supplier. If exit is unavoidable ensure that workers are protected and paid.
  • Work closely with suppliers including raw material suppliers to collaboratively plan and secure capacity needed and provide updated forecasts.

Safeguarding factory working conditions   

  • Listen to the voices of workers through their trade unions, social dialogue mechanisms or elected worker representatives.
  • Make sure safety measures to contain the risk of infection are implemented at the work floor. Workers should be informed about their rights and provided correct information on preventive safety measures.
  • Factories should have a mechanism in place to address questions from workers and involve them in decision making. Workers must have access to a trade union or other worker representation to collectively respond to measures or to raise issues. Workers should have access to a channel to support remedy of problems related to their rights. Grievance channels should be accessible to workers even if factories have closed, or the workers have been retrenched.
  • Workers should have access to safe transportation to the factory.