The Battle for a Safer Bangladesh Goes On
In this world, it’s all too clear that profitability is the business driver, not safe, ethical working conditions. That means, at least to my way of thinking, that those of us who create the demand are as much responsible for the poor working conditions as the Bangladeshi factory owners and managers who permit them.
“Social accountability has moved beyond the ‘cut-and-run’ mentality prevalent in the apparel industry of the '80s to a more enlightened model of capacity building,” according to my colleague, QCA executive director for compliance, Dee Fenton. “It’s not about a code of conduct, it’s whether a company is actively monitoring their supply bases and what they do with the information collected in audits.”
While it’s encouraging to see the challenge in Bangladesh being addressed by organizations like the alliance and the accord, it’s disappointing that the fragmented approach means that it’s not as effective as it might otherwise be. The garment industry, like the promotional products industry, needs to be able to speak with one strong voice to ensure that improvements can be made in compliance and factory safety in all parts of the world.
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.