Yesterday, Levi Strauss & Co. announced a new Terms of Engagement for its global supply chain, moving beyond compliance to help improve the lives of workers in factories around the world. Under the new approach, LS&Co. will require contract factories to help make employees’ lives better by supporting programs for their workers that align with UN Millennium Development goals.
In a speech delivered today at the CERES annual conference, 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.”
The speech comes twenty years after Levi Strauss & Co. announced a Terms of Engagement that set a new standard of compliance for vendor factories in the apparel industry. The TOE required manufacturing factories to follow health, safety and environmental standards set by Levi Strauss & Co. This standard – considered pioneering at the time – rapidly became the norm for most companies with a global supply chain.
Anderson argued that companies need to do more to create progress and move the industry forward: “Compliance has us focused on two things: a legalistic standard of “do no harm” and factory-level monitoring and reporting,” said Anderson. “While we’ve made progress in a number of areas over twenty years, the hard truth is that we haven’t made enough progress on improving the everyday lives of the people who make our products.”
A New Terms of Engagement
The company’s new approach will focus on programs that align with the UN Millennium Development Goals http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ specifically: improving maternal and child health; combating HIV/AIDs, and other diseases; promoting gender equality and empowering women; eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; and ensuring environmental sustainability.
LS& Co. committed to a nine-month advisory process with NGOs, other brands, labor unions and suppliers around the world. At the end of the process, Levi Strauss & Co. will release a white paper for public comment and then will begin implementing the new terms of engagement with suppliers in May 2012.
The company argued that a new terms of engagement is not only the right thing to do, but is good for business: “We are sure that if companies focus not just on the minimum legal requirements, but on a broader vision of social, economic, and environmental sustainability, they will be rewarded,” said Anderson.
Levi Strauss & Co. is a participant in the CERES Investor Business Roundtable for a Sustainable Economy announced this morning. The company made the commitment as part of a keynote speech delivered at the 2011 CERES Conference. For more information about the Roundtable, visit: ceres.org.
For the full John Anderson speech and more background information, please visit:http://www.levistrauss.com/new-termsofengagement. (Source: CSRwire PR)