Following the launch of the Fashion CEO Agenda on 12 May 2021, Global Fashion Agenda took a closer look at each of the five priorities set forth to discuss how policy potentially can support the further activation of each priority.
The fashion value chain employs 65 million people, many of whom are exposed to occupational hazards, ranging from exposure to dangerous work conditions to discrimination. Human rights violations occur at various value chain stages and, if addressed, are tackled differently depending on brand impact and local context. The increased risk of the occurrence of forced labour across several countries in the value chain demands the worldwide attention of both governments and private-sector actors.
Policy Gaps and Opportunities
While the industry has come a long way in recent years, more is required of brands and their value chains. In order to support that, the European Commission will be presenting a legislative initiative by the end of the first semester 2021 based on mandatory due diligence for companies and an initiative meant to clarify directors’ duties.
This is not only of significant relevance to the protection of millions of workers and their livelihoods, but also for manufacturers to remain viable as they face increasing financial pressure. Member States´ action
alone is unlikely to be sufficient and efficient taking into account the global dimension of the problem.
Therefore the industry globally acknowledges the importance of a harmonized reporting system including identifying and preventing relevant risks and mitigating negative impacts based upon available leverage. It is however important to acknowledge that -independently of the exact content of the forthcoming measures- they will complement not only the UN Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines for MNEs but also other existing related regulations at the European, national and regional level. As such there is a pressing need for policymakers to ensure coherence between different obligations for companies stemming from different jurisdictions.
Focus of the discussion
Although the content of the EU sustainable corporate governance initiative is unknown at this stage, the industry is overall united behind the EU´s efforts to harmonise and create a comprehensive European wide approach regarding its due diligence pillar. It calls for policy measures to be drafted collaboratively to avoid unnecessary administrative burden for companies and to provide the ones from third countries with clarity regarding their obligations when operating in the EU market by selling goods and providing services.
Lucrezia Busa, member of cabinet of EU Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders
Andrew Martin, Vice President, Membership and Stakeholder Engagement, SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition)
Janet Mensink, Executive Director, SLCP (Social & Labor Convergence Program)
Claus Teilmann Petersen, Senior Human Rights Specialist, BESTSELLER
Simon Platts, Responsible Sourcing Director, ASOS
Moderator: Tyler Gillard, Head of Due Diligence, OECD Centre for Responsible Business Conduct