On a sunny September 27th in Amsterdam, the Social and Labor Convergence Project welcomed 90 or so people to the Impact Hub for the General Assembly. The aim of the day was to take a moment to celebrate what the signatories have accomplished in just under three years. At the same time, it was an opportunity for the signatories to get an insight into the plans for the following 5  years as the SLCP turns from a project into a program.

As a multi-stakeholder project, the SLCP was able to have many different participants contribute to a wonderful day. The day was kicked off by the Chair, Pierre Hupperts who reflected on the work that has been done over a very short period of time and the work that is to come. Orsola De Castro, Co-Founder of Fashion Revolution reminded us of the wider context of what the long-term vision of SLCP is about – being the catalyst for safer and more decent work in the textile supply chain.

Following that, Janet Mensink (Project Director of the SLCP) and Dan Fibiger from Gap Inc. joined the stage to provide signatories with details on what has been created thus far, the heavy lifting carried out by secretariat and signatories alike, across the globe, to develop the SLCP Converged Assessment Framework. There was additional thank you given to the Steering Committee and Project Management Team members for the support they have provided in driving the project to the place where it stands now.

Part of what makes this project unique is the solution that was found to maintain the integrity of the data collected in factories. To enable this element to move from theory to practice, additional support came from IT specialists who created the semi-decentralized sharing model, using a Gateway and Accredited Hosts for hosting and sharing of the SLCP verified data. Those present at the General Assembly were given a world premier as Dan Gagliardi (Assent Compliance), Joseph Wozniak (ITC) and Micah Anceretti (Nike) walked the audience through the developments process and eventually through a recording of the system in motion. For attendees, this was a truly exciting moment.

The Converged Assessment Framework, is ready to go!

At two stages during the day, signatories were asked to speak, firstly about their adoption plans then about their hopes for the future. Organizations such as Arvind, Target, PVH, Nike and Puma all made statements about the plans for adoption which was a testament to the work that has been done. Gap Inc. also provided their ambitions and willingness to stay the course, noting that transition would not be smooth, but it is crucial not to cut and run at the slightest sign of any problems. There was acceptance that the system was still subject to improvement based on learnings from the 2018 Light Operation in Sri Lanka and China and that it would take some time to iron out the kinks but the long-term direction is definitely the right one. Jennifer Schappet from the OECD gave her thoughts on what she hoped the SLCP would bring:

(1) demonstrate that supplier audits have been reduced

(2) show that the information gathered during assessments is adequately robust to enable a company to act appropriately and

(3) demonstrate that issues are being addressed over time by using aggregate data from SLCP assessments as one point of feedback.

To support this, it is imperative that the SLCP establishes robust systems to measure the effectiveness of the assessment protocols to evaluate whether the data being gathered is adequately robust and that verifiers have the competencies to carry out effective evaluations.

Change Agency led a session on the 5 Year Strategy, highlighting the core strategy of the SLCP, the resources required to get there, including the buildup of the team and a deep dive into the financials with a focus on the business models. Key to the functioning of the SLCP as a program is the Governance which needs to reflect the same commitment to the inclusive multi-stakeholder process used to building converged assessment framework. It was also made very clear how the roles and responsibilities would be divided between the Council and the Secretariat. Signatories were then given ample opportunity to ask questions to Barry and Jonathan from Change Agency to clarify certain items in the 5 Year Strategy.

Thereafter was a surprise fashion show from a Dutch based social enterprise called RMBLR, which uses fashion as a way to teach street teens how to design and make and sell clothing through their language of street fashion. In participating in this process, they are able to discover their talents and strengths.

After lunch there was a quick quiz on the history of fashion followed by a session run by Anna Burger of Cornell University with Eranthi Premaratne – MAS Holdings, Erin Lyon – Elevate, Rick Relinger – PVH, Roopa Nair – ILO, Tamar Hoek – Solidaridad as panelists. The session was about how these signatories would work towards the vision of improved working conditions. There were many items discussed but key items were continued collaboration, working on purchasing practices and finding ways to incentives the behaviors that we want to see.

Pierre Hupperts then provide a summary of the day, encouraging signatories to, among other things:

  1. Vote – to support the 5 Year Strategic Plan
  2. Collaborate – as a group of signatories, and as an industry, this is the way to move things forward

A special thanks to Jörgen Tjon a Fong for being the moderator and keeping things moving, to the photographer, Sophie Laubert and to the team at Impact Hub.