Of the 37 companies examined by KnowTheChain, the ten footwear or apparel companies that are most conscientious in terms of supply-chain labor policy, scored on a scale of zero to 100, are: Lululemon (89), Adidas (86), PVH (74), Gap (70), Primark (69), Nike (62), VF (62), Puma (58), H&M (55) and Inditex (55).

The ten least conscientious are Shenzhou International (3), Prada (5), Anta (5), Foot Locker (13), Tapestry (16), Pou Chen (18), Mr Price (18), TJX Companies (19), LVMH (19) and Capri Holdings (20). The average score for footwear and apparel was 41 and for all industries 33.

Through a benchmarking partnership between Humanity United, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Sustainalytics and Verite, KnowTheChain examined the companies’ purchasing and supply chains by poring through public and company-provided information for the period from November 2020 to February 2021. It then split the companies into five categories: those that have taken no steps, basic steps, some steps, intermediate steps or advanced steps to eliminate forced labor from their supply chains. The report is available online.

Luxury apparel came out looking the worst among the industry segments, with an average company score of 31. Prada has declined since the partnership’s previous report, issued in 2016, while Kering and Hugo Boss have improved.

Lululemon and Adidas come in for praise, “because they disclose robust efforts across benchmark themes, such as the steps they take across different sourcing contexts to safeguard the rights of migrant workers.”

KnowTheChain points out that apparel and footwear companies tend to disclose:

  • supply-chain risk assessments for human rights, but not for forced labor
  • sourcing bans or certifications for raw materials, but not for proper purchasing policies
  • bans on recruitment fees, but not on worker-paid fees
  • grievance mechanisms for the first tier, but not for lower tiers of their supply chains
  • audit procedures for supplier labor practices, but not for results for supply-chain workers

In fact, 18 of the companies examined in the report generated “worker-centric scores” of zero. By this metric, Adidas (61) came out on top, followed by Lululemon (44).

The companies that improved the most overall since 2016 are Pou Chen (6 to 18), Asics (41 to 49) and Fast Retailing (43 to 52). Pou Chen contols Yue Yue Industrial Holdings and Fast Retailing owns Uniqlo.

Photo: Janko Ferlic, Unsplash