Gap Finds Doing the Right Thing Can Be Hard
By George Anderson
The Gap wants to do the right thing when it comes to protecting factory workers at overseas suppliers.
“We recognize our responsibility to be a catalyst for sustainable change, and believe an integrated approach that includes collaborative multi-stakeholder engagement can help drive lasting progress across our industry,” said Gap Inc. CEO and president Paul Pressler in a released statement. “Although we still face many challenges, we are encouraged by the progress we’ve made over the past year across several areas.”
The company released its second annual social responsibility report yesterday summarizing the findings of 92 inspectors who monitored 99.9 percent of the factories supplying product to Gap Inc. in 2004.
The retailer said it had invited Social Accountability International (SAI) and Verité to assess its monitoring efforts and that it was making modifications to its program based on those recommendations to further improve the process.
As a result of its inspection program, Gap Inc. said it stopped doing business in 2004 with 70 factories for failure to live up to the company’s Code of Vendor Conduct. That figure was down from 136 in 2003.
Fifteen percent of factories that sought to become vendors in 2004 were rejected because they did not mean minimum standards set by the company compared to 16 percent the year before.
Bob Jeffcott, policy analyst for the Maquila Solidarity Network, a workers’ rights group in Toronto told The Associated Press he is encouraged by what Gap Inc. is doing.
He cautioned, however, if the problems of foreign factory workers are going to be dealt with, Gap Inc. and others using overseas labor are going to have to pay suppliers more for the goods they are producing.
“No one is dealing with the fundamental question on how much you should be paying these suppliers so they can afford to pay their workers better wages,” he said.
Part of the issue of price squeeze, admits Gap Inc., are its own “inefficient purchasing practices” that often put last-minute demands on suppliers to deliver product.
Moderator’s Comment: What are the practical benefits, if any, that you see connected to Gap Inc.’s attempts to improve conditions for overseas factory
George Anderson – Moderator
- Gap Inc.’s Social Responsibility Report Reveals Continued Progress and
Cites Expanded Efforts to Improve Garment Manufacturing Conditions across Industry – Gap Inc.
- Social Responsibility – Gap Inc.
- Facing Challenges, Finding Opportunities: 2004 Social Responsibility Report – Gap
continues crackdown on labor abuses – The Associated Press/Reno Gazette Journal