If Not You,Then Who Will Guard the Global Village?
ARE GOOD INTENTIONS
When it comes to how our industry is faring with sending a positive message
to distributors, full disclosure is making gains. Mary Ellen Pahlka, director of marketing for Bodek and Rhodes, Philadelphia, Pa., concurred with Kernaghan regarding recent inroads being made in terms of social responsibility in offshore manufacturing. “Ten years ago, none of us were even discussing this topic. Now many suppliers are publishing social responsibility statements in their catalogs. We have come a long way as an industry, but also have a long way to go,” stated Pahlka. Going one step further in support of social responsibility, Bodek and Rhodes has issued a public responsibility declaration, clearly stating its aspiration to be a leader in social accountability as well as an expectation of fair and ethical treatment of workers within the facilities of all its business partners.
Hard goods suppliers are also taking a closer look at their offshore manufacturers and are reacting to socially responsible calls to action. “We are making sure our factories are compliant,” stated Bonni Shevin-Sandy, president of Dard Designs, vice president of Dard Products, Evanston, Ill., though she affirmed it’s been a struggle. Only a small group (relatively speaking) of U.S. manufacturers has made the commitment to only utilize factories complying with fair labor practices. Because of this, several offshore facilities felt if they waited it out, the storm would die down and they could return to the status quo, no investment necessary, Shevin-Sandy said. “The factories that took this stance were the ones we had to move away from. I have personally been to the core factories quarterly, making the proper changes. I have scaled down from many factories to a few core factories that I partner with exclusively,” she added.
Over the course of the last decade, a variety of for-profit and nonprofit auditing agencies have begun filling the monitoring gap for both retail and promotional suppliers alike. Bodek and Rhodes follows guidelines established by W.R.A.P. (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production), a leading independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the certification of lawful, humane and ethical textile manufacturing throughout the world.