Two mills in Pakistan said yes to YESS.
Responsible Sourcing Network (RSN) collaborated with Elevate, an LRQA company, as part of its Global Trace Protocol (GTP) project to conduct the inaugural third-party due diligence assessments of its initiative, YESS: Yarn Ethically & Sustainably Sourced. Spinning and fabric mills are assessed on their management systems and inventory controls to mitigate the risk of forced labor in their cotton supply chains against the YESS Standards.
“This is a historic event,” Patricia Jurewicz, CEO of RSN and founder of YESS, said. “Several years have gone into researching and developing the YESS Standards for spinning and fabric mills, so it is exciting and gratifying to see them implemented with the first-ever independent YESS assessments. We applaud the mills that took this on.”
GTP organized the YESS assessments with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. They were performed in conjunction with a series of due diligence and traceability workshops held in Faisalabad, Lahore and Karachi with the theme of Pakistan’s cotton and textile sectors gaining a competitive edge by improving their labor rights due diligence—including the elimination of child and forced labor—and increasing supply chain transparency with enhanced traceability.
Two Pakistani textile mills, Artistic Fabric Mills (AFM) and Nishat Mills, underwent YESS assessments at their spinning facilities to identify and address cotton produced with forced labor that may be in their supply chains. Auditors for ARCHE Advisors, a consultant company with expertise in social and due diligence assessments, conducted the inspections with a GTP Elevate observer in attendance.
“We appreciate the methods of YESS and Elevate regarding forced labor and sustainable cotton inputs,” said Muhamad Mumtaz, general manager of spinning and cotton procurement at Nishat Mills. “Nishat is committed to only sourcing cotton inputs that are sustainable and free of forced labor. By implementing the GTP tools and YESS Standard, we can demonstrate that we are indeed being responsible with our sourcing partners.”
To normalize due diligence, introduce traceability tools and educate stakeholders on growing expectations from international brands and retailers, three YESS workshops were held, including one in conjunction with the KnowTex conference at the National Textile University in Faisalabad.
“RSN’s YESS initiative provides a very valuable tool that enhances a robust approach to due diligence, supported by traceability, in line with GTP objectives and the business interests of Pakistan’s cotton and textile sectors,” Jeff Wheeler, director of the GTP project at Elevate, said.
The Lahore workshop was co-sponsored by the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan, both voices for sustainable textile production in Pakistan. The workshops come at a time when strict legislation and regulations driving global brands to prioritize workers’ rights, secure safe working environments and minimize environmental footprints within their supply chains.
“WWF-Pakistan supports harmonization across different standards and promotes standards in local supply chains, so their benefits don’t remain limited to just export-oriented companies,” Arjmand Qayyum Amjad, senior manager of freshwater from WWF-Pakistan, said. “The YESS Standards very much address the due diligence gap in textile supply chains since standards for cotton farming, processing, finishing, etc., are already in place.”
“I’m honored to have played a role with the inaugural YESS due diligence assessments and capacity building workshops in Pakistan,” due diligence expert Liz Muller, principal of Liz Muller & Partners, an organization that assists companies in developing and implementing sustainable programs, said. “YESS is great for the industry because it educates spinning and fabric mills on how to strengthen their management systems, conduct risk assessments for forced labor, and collaborate around risk prevention and mitigation. Understanding of a due diligence approach is sorely needed throughout the textile industry, and YESS does it in a way that empowers the manufacturers.”
As part of Verité’s Supply Chain Tracing & Engagement Methodologies (STREAMS) projects, YESS will conduct its first third-party due diligence assessments and capacity-building workshops in India starting in late April.
RSN is a non-profit for-benefit organization based in the U.S. that strives to end human rights abuses and forced labor connected to the raw materials found in everyday products. Elevate, an LRQA company, designs, builds and manages data-driven sustainability-linked programs with assessment, advisory, program management and analytics that drive positive impact.