KnowTheChain Launches its 2018 Apparel and Footwear Benchmark
Today, KnowTheChain released its final benchmark of 2018, covering the apparel and footwear sector, which remains at high risk of forced labor despite decades of stakeholder and public scrutiny. The benchmark finds that 28 of 43 companies score below 50/100 in addressing the risk of forced labor in supply chains, and 10 companies score below 10/100.
This benchmark is KnowTheChain’s second for the apparel and footwear industry. While the 2018 benchmark shows improvement from the sector since KnowTheChain’s previous benchmark in 2016, industry-wide progress is uneven and lacking on key issues such as responsible recruitment—one of the areas with the most direct impact on workers’ lives.
“Workers in the apparel and footwear sector are particularly vulnerable to exploitation, with women and migrant workers making up the majority of the labor force,” said Kilian Moote, project director for KnowTheChain. “Companies and their investors have a responsibility to ensure workers are treated fairly and humanely.”
The report finds 18 companies scored 0/100 on recruitment, which measures a company’s approach to reducing the risk of exploitation of workers by recruitment agencies, eliminating workers’ payment of fees during the recruitment processes, and protecting the rights of migrant workers.
“Nobody should have to pay to have a job, yet responsible recruitment efforts remains the least developed area of work for the industry,” said Moote. “More than half the companies we looked at had no policy to stop employers from keeping workers’ passports, and only four could show that they had reimbursed workers for recruitment fees.”
In addition to ranking companies, KnowTheChain’s report provides good practice examples and recommendations. The report also evaluates corporate commitments and compliance with relevant regulations such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act and provides considerations for investor action.