Most fashion and footwear brands do not pay a living wage to the factory workers producing their products, according to Baptist World Aid Australia’s Ethical Fashion Guide released on October 17.
BWAA found that only 10% of the brands it analyzed are paying a living wage to the workers at their factories in the final stage of product preparation.
In addition, only 15% have adopted “greenhouse gas emissions reduction target and strategy” and 40% of the fashion companies analyzed didn’t provide information about the sources of their raw supplies (56% of footwear and 37% of clothing companies).
“As we did our research, it became clear that the journey towards an ethical supply chain is far from over, and there’s still much work to be done,” said Peter Keegan, director of advocacy at BWAA, in an Oct. 11 press release previewing the report. “The results show us what needs to change to bring justice for workers and protection for our planet. It helps us be better informed citizens and provokes us to act.”
This year’s guide focused on six supply chain areas: tracing and transparency, worker pay, efforts to address and eliminate worker exploitation, processes for addressing worker grievances and allowing collective bargaining, use of sustainable clothing fibers, and carbon emission reduction efforts.
Questions used to analyze each brand include:
- Does the company have a clear set of standards for all work in its supply chain?
- Does the company have a clear picture of where its goods are produced?
- Does the company work to address the highest risks of forced and child labor in its supply chain?
- Does the company have a credible plan to ensure every worker in its supply chain is paid fairly?
- Does the company have a credible plan to reduce the climate impact of its operations and supply chain?
The 2022 ethical fashion guide included grades on several footwear brands for the first time, as well as an updated grading system in which brands received a score on a scale of 0 to 100 (rather than a letter grade, as in previous reports). The average score across the 120 companies (representing 581 brands) analyzed was 29.25.
Adidas (58), Altra (54), Bali (58), Cobra Golf (58), Converse (50), Champion (58), Gildan (54), Hanes (58), Jansport (54), Lululemon Athletica (56), Maidenform (58), Massimo Dutti (60), New Balance (52), Nike (50), Playtex (58), Timberland (54), The North Face (54) and VANS (54) were among the highest rated fashion brands.
The lowest rated fashion brands included: Amazon Basics (11), Amazon Essentials (11), Billabong (5), Birkenstock (7), Chaco (14), DC Shoes (5), Florsheim (7), Forever 21 (3), Nine West (0) and Nunn Bush (7).
“‘While it’s positive to see progress among some brands committed to improving their ethical supply chains in the last year, overall, this year’s Ethical Fashion Report is sobering reading for shoppers, investors and leaders in the fashion industry,” said Sarah Knop, corporate advocacy lead at BWAA, in an Oct. 17 press release announcing the report. “It’s time for brands to prioritize action over rhetoric, to move from policies and commitments to tangible outcomes that support vulnerable workers and our vulnerable planet.”
The full report is available to download here, while an online fashion brand finder is available here.