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Magic Market In Focus: Important Social Compliance Seminar

Magic Market Week is a carnival of industry exhibits and bustling activity, an omnibus of more than a dozen trade fairs assembled into several  massive spaces. Staged at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Liberty at the Sands Expo Center and ENK Vegas at Mandalay Bay, hundreds of apparel vendors, sourcing firms, designers and trade representatives gather to network, sell their wares and learn.

The event is teeming with instructive seminars. One that merits special notice is “Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call! Innovative Ideas for Compliance.” The panel discussion was hosted by SGS, an industry leader in inspection, testing, certification and verification. Katherine Stein, the Director of International Business Development for SGS North America, Inc., moderated the exchange.

On the panel were three notable leaders in global compliance. Avedis Seferian, CEO of Worldwide Responsible Accredited Program (WRAP), spoke candidly about the growing importance of compliance to any company’s bottom line. Dr. A. Sakhivel, Chairman of the Apparel Export Promotion Export Council of India, addressed some of the serious practical obstacles to promoting compliance in countries infamously averse to it. And Jeanine Ballone, Senior Director of PVH and Founder of Zero to Hero Foundation, talked about her own experience with compliance and the need for its incorporation into the entirety of the supply chain.

The conversation ranged widely, covering a broad spectrum of germane topics including social compliance and environmental sustainability. Nestled within the exchange on social compliance were discussions of human rights, health and safety, fair wages, record keeping and monitoring and ethical behavior. The dialogue regarding environmental compliance covered sustainability, energy, water and natural resources, factory efficiency and chemical agents and raw materials.

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One key point of agreement was that compliance must be emphasized at every link of the supply chain, incorporating its application “holistically.” Both Seferian and Ballone, in particular, repeatedly emphasized the need for compliance to become fully integrated into every aspect of a company’s business, rather than a separate addendum to the decision making process.

Seferian made an impassioned appeal to businesses to come to grips with the new impact compliance now has on profitability. He argued that no company could sustain repeated violations of compliance regulation, inviting both pubic scorn and the cumbersome costs associated with regulatory violations.

The deliberations were speckled with anecdotal accounts of each presenter’s experience in their respective industries. Sakthivel recounted his thirty-two years of experience as a manufacturer in India, with all the lessons and revelations such a background entails. He observed that when he first started in business, compliance didn’t yet rise to the level of an afterthought, let alone a key driver of business success.

The seminar also explored new collaborative projects that unite factory owners, governmental agencies and retailers for the cause of compliance. Sakthivel spoke at length of the Development Initiative for Self-Reliance and Human Advancement (DISHA), an agency that describes itself as a “secular, social, apolitical, non-profit and a non-government organization.” DISHA, a public, charitable trust established in 2004, is devoted to a broad swath of social projects in India, of which manufacturing compliance figures prominently.