Many apparel brands, including Adidas and M&S, are making strides with their ethical supply chains.
The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), an annual assessment that evaluates global businesses on human rights performance, released its 2017 results. For the apparel sector, companies including Adidas, Gap, H&M and M&S achieved top scores in human rights policy and transparency.
The CHRB aims to drive progress with human rights, encourage investors to acknowledge social costs and allow the general public to critique poor performing companies. Released yearly, the CHRB provides a comparative overview of the largest companies worldwide and measures their policies, practices and processes as well as how they respond to serious allegations.
For 2017, 98 global companies were ranked on 100 human rights indicators. Each company was scored across six core measurement themes as well, including governance and policies, remedies and grievance mechanisms, company human rights practices, responses to serious allegations, transparency, and embedding respect and human rights due diligence, which accounted for the highest percentage of the score (25 percent). Each company’s measurement theme score was determined by adding the number of points granted in the respective theme and dividing it by the maximum number of points available. All measurement theme scores were then weighted to formulate each company’s total CHRB score.
For apparel, 30 publicly traded companies were assessed. The overall average score was 27.3 percent, which was lower than the other industries analyzed. The highest scoring measurement was transparency, meanwhile most companies ranked low in remedies and grievance mechanisms.
M&S achieved the highest CHRB score (64 percent) out of the assessed apparel group. M&S was recognized for identifying its seven most salient issues in its supply chain, providing public updates on compliance improvements and allocating support for suppliers that had human rights concerns. Adidas came in second place with a CHRB score of 56 percent. CHRB noted how Adidas established an efficient third party complaint system for ethical concerns in its supply chain, as well as enforcing purchase decisions that supported human rights.
Other apparel brands that ranked high in the CHRB assessment included H&M, which achieved a score of 47 percent for notable progress with its 2015 sustainability report and Gap, which also earned a score of 44 percent for taking responsibility for human rights allegations. Hanesbrands, Inditex, Nike, Target and Tesco also held spots in CHRB’s top 10 list of ethical apparel companies.