As a large global company, we have responsibilities for all of our 150,000 employees — but also for the around 1.3 million textile workers employed by our suppliers. We want everyone to be treated with respect and work in a safe and healthy environment.
H&M Group has been managing these issues for more than 20 years, constantly moving closer to our ambition to become a Fair and Equal company. As with many other brands, we don’t own the factories — instead, we collaborate with around 605 suppliers, representing more than 1,183 factories that also produce for other brands.
Securing good working conditions
Everyone should have access to decent, meaningful jobs with fair compensation and benefits, in safe and secure workplaces that are free from discrimination and with the right to freedom of association. This is true of our employees and people working in our production supply chain. Our work is aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and informed by its definition of decent work.
We are careful when entering new partnerships and are committed to choosing partners who share our respect for people and the environment, and who are willing to work with us to improve their practices. Our employees in our production offices work directly with our suppliers and their factories to form good relations, assess their performance against our Sustainability Commitment, and support them in making improvements through various programmes and activities. Through our Sustainable Impact Partnership Programme (SIPP) we support our business partners in raising their environmental and social performance. Not only do our employees in production offices have close relationships with our business partners, but also with non-governmental organisations, experts, stakeholders and local governments. This gives them insight into the challenges involved and an understanding of how to drive improvements locally. Once we form a partnership, we work together with the supplier to improve their sustainability performance through training and capacity building. Sustainability performance is an important factor when deciding which suppliers to do business with.
The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh
H&M Group is committed to contributing to fire, building and electrical safety in our supply chain. We were one of the first signatories of the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which was signed in 2013. It was an agreement between the international trade union IndustriALL Global Union and more than 200 apparel brands and retailers to make fire, electrical and structural improvements in the Bangladesh ready-made garment industry.
Under the Accord, all factories producing for Accord signatory companies, including H&M Group, undergo independent regular fire, electrical and structural safety inspections. These inspection reports, as well as the corrective action plans (CAPs) are then disclosed publicly to ensure full transparency and accountability.
Since the Accord started in 2013, the textile industry in Bangladesh has gone through a remarkable change regarding to workers’ safety. The Accord covered over 1,600 factories in Bangladesh, representing over 2 million workers. Since it began, over 38,000 inspections of factories have been carried out and over 1,200 Accord-covered factories have invested significantly to implement over 90% of the issues identified in their Corrective Actions Plans. Working on the ground in Bangladesh, we can see the progress that has been made.
The initial five year agreement came to an end in 2018, but its successful work was extended for three years through the 2018 Transition Accord Agreement. This renewed agreement gave continuity to the work achieved and recognised that, at the end of the three year period, the work would be handed over to a national regulatory body.
In May 2020, the Accord operations in Bangladesh were transferred to the then newly founded RMG Sustainability Council (RSC). This is a Bangladesh not-for-profit organisation with tripartite governance structures and equal representation on the board of directors of international brands, trade unions and suppliers. RSC adopted all Accord protocols and articles and has maintained operations since the Transition Accord ended in May 2021. In collaboration with all stakeholders, we aim to secure the continued success of the RSC.
We want to continue to involve a wide range of actors pushing for change across the textile industry in Bangladesh, not only the factories producing for H&M Group. This way we can — together with other companies, global trade unions, employers’ organisations and the Bangladeshi government — actively influence and contribute to improved workplace safety in the textile industry.
In August 2021, a new agreement called the International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry was signed between H&M Group, trade unions and other brands. The agreement, which was a continuation of the previous legally binding commitments, took effect on 1 September 2021. In January 2023, H&M Group signed a new agreement between global brands and trade unions with the aim to further protect the health and safety of garment workers in Pakistan.
This agreement is a legally binding commitment and will, in collaboration with industry stakeholders in Pakistan, continue our joint efforts on this very important area.
The Responsible Trucking platform and the Truck Transport Social Guidelines
In 2021, H&M Group became one of 11 partners in the collaborative platform Responsible Trucking, which is facilitated by CSR Europé. The partnership aims to improve the social conditions of truck drivers in the road transport and logistics sector across Europe.
As a first step, the Social Guidelines have been released. They reflect a joint commitment concerning truck drivers’ working conditions, including among others forced labour, working and resting times, remuneration and health
To move from guidelines to practical implementation, Responsible Trucking has an integrated approach focused on:
- Developing an industry-wide spot-check tool that will allow hearing the voice of the drivers.
- Organising capacity building activities aimed at supporting transport buyers and suppliers empower drivers.
- Engaging with key stakeholders.