Analysis

Will other brands follow Levi Strauss & Co lead on responsible treatment of workers? (May 2011)

May 2011

Levi Strauss & Co has announced new ‘Terms of Engagement’ for its global supply chain, stating its intention to moving beyond compliance to help improve the lives of workers in factories producing its goods around the world.

The company’s CEO and President John Anderson said: "We are proposing a new apparel industry standard of social, economic, and environmental sustainability that focuses on improving workers' lives. If our ultimate goal is to improve not just factory conditions, but to make a material difference to the people and communities in our supply chain, then we need a more holistic approach and a more human perspective."

This new approach will focus on programs that align with the UN Millennium Development Goals which include improving maternal and child health; combating HIV/AIDs; promoting gender equality; eradicating extreme poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability. 

Levi Strauss & Co has committed to a nine month advisory process with relevant NGOs, labour unions and suppliers. Once a white paper is finalised the new terms of engagement with suppliers will be implemented from May 2012.

With the final scope, cost and technical practicalities around implementation as yet undecided, it is difficult to determine whether other fashion brands will attempt to follow suit. However, this announcement from Levi Strauss & Co will doubtless have an immediate influence on the CSR planning, especially related to labour issues, of its major competitors. 

More on Levi Strauss & Co's sustainability policies and approaches.

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