The Revolution Continues – Caring Through Clothing
People have long cared about where their clothes from, but it’s undeniable that Rana Plaza five years ago changed things. M&S and our suppliers had no involvement in those tragic events, but it was an event that rightly demanded the retail industry to listen up and respond. We’re proud to have worked with our fellow retailers to help improve the clothing supply chain in Bangladesh.
I blogged in 2015 about Fashion Revolution Day where I ran through what we had been doing, and continue to do, in Bangladesh and other places we source from around the world. For example, in 2009 we were one of the first companies to publish a set of Global Sourcing Principles and in 2013 we were one of the first to sign the Bangladesh Accord that runs until May this year. I also talked about our approach – true collaboration in the 50 countries we source from, and an attitude that if we find something not right we’ll help make it better – we don’t just cut and run. This work and these principles absolutely remain true.
Over the past couple of years, since that blog, ethical standards in our Clothing supply chain have continued to be a focus for us – and not just compliance, but also empowerment. My colleague Laura blogged last year about gender equality projects in our factories in India (and it’s also a focus in our food supply chain). When we set new targets in 2017 as part of Plan A 2025 we were ambitious with our Clothing commitments and the focus on ethical sourcing. There are 31 Clothing & Home commitments and 14 of those are specific to ethical trading. So, they keep us busy – from ensuring that between 2017 and 2025 our global community programme will benefit 1m people, to aiming for 25% female management in our factories by 2022 – commitments I’m extremely passionate about.
As we approach the anniversary of Rana Plaza everyone in the industry is reflecting on what’s been done and what more we can do - the response has been action-orientated and this must absolutely remain the case. For us, the focus is on delivering our commitments in Plan A 2025 and playing an active role in industry organisations and bodies. An example of this is the fact that yesterday we registered our intent to join the Bangladesh Transition Accord 2018 or 2.0. As the anniversary is reported on and reflected upon in the media I want to ensure my colleagues, our customers, the communities we serve and the communities who serve us through manufacturing around the world know that our approach to ethical standards is and will remain rigorous, beyond compliance, collaborative and ultimately empowering. And I want them to know that we’ll keep working to ensure we have the most ethical supply chain of any major retailer in the UK.