What do we want to achieve?

We believe that we can improve labor conditions in the apparel and footwear industries by joining forces: ‘one single assessment for all, more resources and improvements for everyone’. That is why we want to create a common framework for data collection that will promote the reduction of duplicated data and audits, and allow resources that were previously designated for compliance audits to be redirected towards the improvement of social and labor conditions.

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What is the scope?

This project will take a step-by-step approach, with a clear scope and ambitious planning. Within two years, we seek to develop an industry-wide effective assessment framework: a tool and verification methodology for the collection of data (information) on social and labor performance in apparel and footwear supply chains. The framework will be agnostic: The focus is on the collection of performance data in a unified and credible way, allowing sharing and comparing across brands and other organizations. The tool is non-judgmental: it will leave undefined what the threshold for ‘good’ or ‘bad’ practices are, and focus on collecting the objective data. The tool offers the basis upon which standards and codes of conduct will base their insights and results. It will not unify existing standards and codes into one.

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Approach

We used a phased approach and started with the foundational data points, which are common among the majority of currently used tools. We completed a comparison study of 21 existing tools and used this study as our “library” throughout the process of development. The first prototype was delivered in Q4 2016, as an excel based question set. The second version of the tool is in the works and  will be built using a modular (step wise) approach, allowing flexibility in the detail level of data collected at the facilities.

The verification process aims to verify the data collected by a facility during the self-assessment process. It will ensure the correctness and completeness of the data gathered through the assessment tool after the self-assessment has taken place and will be carried out by an individual who has been trained/certified to carry out verifications on behalf of the Social and Labor Convergence Project. The verifier will not pass judgement or score the facility. Guidance documents will be provided to the factory and verifier to ensure that both parties are aware of and adhere to the same verification protocols.

The project has five focus areas, each of which is translated into one operational working group: Tool Development, Verification, Stakeholder Engagement, Communication & Public Relations and Adoption & Operation. For each of the working groups, goals and milestones as outlined in the Strategy Document have been identified.

Signatories

In October 2015, 33 parties announced their commitment to the rationale and principles of this joint project: collaboratively building the tools and verification methodology, as well as the intention to replace proprietary tools with the S&L Convergence tool. A public statement invited all stakeholders to join. Since then, the number of signatories increased from 33 to over 140, and we expect (and want) more partners to join the project.

Adidas Group, American Eagle Outfitters, Ann Inc, Arc’teryx, Asics Corporation, Bestseller A/S, Brooks Sports, Burton Snowboards, C&A, C & J Clark International Ltd, Columbia Sportswear Co., De Bijenkorf, Ecco Holding A/S, Eileen Fisher, Fanatics, Fast Retailing/Uniqlo, Gap Inc., G-Star, H&M, HEMA, Hudson’s Bay Company, IC Group, INDIGENOUS, Inditex, KappAhl, Kathmandu, Kering, L Brands, Levi Strauss & Co., LL Bean Inc., Loomstate, lululemon, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Miss Green, Mud Jeans, M&S, Nike Inc., Outerknown, Patagonia Inc., PrAna Living LLC, Puma, PVH Corp., REI, SanMar Corp, Stella McCartney, Schutt Sports, Talbots, Target Corporation, The Children’s Place, Tory Burch, Uniform Project, VFc-Timberland, Williams Sonoma, Inc., zLabels, Zephyr Graf-X

Industry Association: AAFA, European Outdoor Group (EOG), JAAF, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA)

Artistic Milliners, Arvind Mills, Avery Dennison Corp, Chenfeng Group Co., Classic Fashion, Comfit Composite Limited, Crystal Group, DBL Group, Delta Galil, Esquel Group, Flextronics, Hanbo Enterprises Holdings Limited, Hirdaramani Ent., ISKO, L&E Int. Ltd., MAS Holdings, Milteks Group, Nester Hosiery, Pratibha Syntex Limited, Ramatex Group, Randa Accessories, SaiTex, Sing Lun Global, SLN Tekstil, Sun Queen Garments, TAL Apparel Group, Thread International, W. L. Gore & Associates, VogueTex, Youngone, Yunus Textile Mills

ANM Transformational Solutions, Asya CC&C, Assent Compliance, Bureau Veritas, BSI group, Control Union Certifications, CTC Groups, DNVGL, Elevate, Fair Factories Clearinghouse, FutureMade, iMentor, Impactt Limited, Intertek KSA Leverage Limited, Koopman Works, MicroBenefits, NEWAsia Solutions Limited, Omega Compliance, Openview Services Lmtd., SCS Global Services, SewEasy, SMT Global, SGS, The Sentio Advisory Group, TÜV Rheinland, TÜV SÜD, Sumerra, UL Responsible Sourcing, Ulula, Workplace Options

Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Danish Fashion Institute, Ethical Trading Initiative Norway (IEH), Good World Solutions, Fair Trade USA, Freedom Fund, International Apparel Federation (IAF), IDH, New Earth, NBIM, Responsible Sourcing Network, Sedex, Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), Solidaridad, The Mekong Club, Verité, Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP), Textile Exchange

Denmark – Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands

ILO, OECD (Both as Observers)

Governance

The project uses a multi-stakeholder governance approach. Several bodies have been established in order to create checks and balances, clear division between the strategic level and operations, and to recognize different involvement levels of stakeholders. The Steering Committee, responsible for strategic direction of the project, has multi-stakeholder representation with members elected by signatories. The Steering Committee is led by an independent chair. A Project Management Team is responsible for the operational aspects, coordinates the Working Groups, and makes recommendations to the Steering Committee. The Working Groups drive the development work and consist of representatives of signatories. Key Working Group decisions and milestones, particularly for tool development and verification methodologies, are supported by a non-signatory Advisory Group of Standard Holders/Multi-stakeholder initiatives. Furthermore, there is a non-signatory Stakeholder Group. They will be kept informed on regular project updates and are also requested to provide input and advice to the Project Management Team.

10%

DECREASE IN SOCIAL AUDIT COSTS

1000

HOURS SAVED CONDUCTING SOCIAL AUDITS

10%

INCREASE IN $ SPENT ON FACTORY IMPROVEMENTS

10%

INCREASE IN FACTORIES MEETING TOP BRAND STANDARDS

 

We need your support

A convergence of efforts is the first step towards moving the industry towards sustained improvements of working conditions. You are a crucial piece of the puzzle with expertise in the assessment ecosystem. We need your help to create awareness around audit fatigue and your knowledge so that the project can develop a resource that works for everyone.

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