At H&M Group, transparency means sharing clear, accurate and relevant information about our supply chain, our products and our business standards and policies. It’s about knowing how and where our products are made and disclosing this information publicly in an honest and accountable way.
Transparency has always been a key part of our sustainability strategy and we have been committed to increasing our level of transparency for many years. H&M was one of the first big brands to make its supplier list public in 2013, and we have worked continuously to share more supplier information ever since.
We believe transparency is key to driving sustainable change across our industry because it creates both comparability and accountability. Transparency empowers customers to make more informed purchasing decisions. It also empowers businesses to make better-informed decisions that will improve their sustainability performance and drive positive change.
There is still a long way to go but we are fully committed to our transparency work and the positive change it is leading to.
Supply-chain transparency is about disclosing the details of all the facilities involved in the manufacturing and production of garments.
Our supplier list, which was first published in 2013, maps and shares the details of our tier 1 suppliers and their manufacturing and processing factories, accounting for 100% of the products we sell across our brands.
Information shared includes name, location, address and number of workers per facility. This information complies with the Transparency Pledge we made in 2017. We also share data relating to worker representation and gender breakdown per facility.
We are continuously working to share more supplier information with the ambition to enable full supply-chain transparency.
Product transparency means sharing information about how, where and what a product is made from. It’s also about disclosing data relating to the environmental and social impact of a product.
In 2019 H&M became the largest global fashion retailer to share product transparency information detailing where every product was made, and what it was made from.
This information is available at www.hm.com for all H&M products and includes the name, address & location of the manufacturing factory, as well as material composition.
Today we are working to increase product transparency by including more data relating to a product’s environmental & social impact. We believe this information will empower both our customers and our business to make more informed choices.
H&M Group believe that supply chain traceability and transparency should go hand-in-hand to create greater accountability for where materials and products come from, and to drive positive change in the fashion industry.
What is traceability?
Traceability means tracking a product through every stage, from raw material to finished garment. Supply chain transparency is sharing this information publicly. Both traceability and transparency are vital components of a sustainable value chain with high levels of social responsibility. This is why we have clear routines and procedures that help us verify our materials to make sure they meet our sustainability policies.
To keep improving our traceability, we need to collaborate. We can have greater impact by working together within and across industries to come up with shared solutions. In 2015, we teamed up with the certifications organisation Control Union to develop a traceability system called Connected. We use this system to trace the origins of our man-made cellulosic fibres – from fibre to final product. This ensures that we only work with producers that fulfil our policies, such as not sourcing from ancient and endangered forests.
Industry collaboration is key
More recently, we have started working with Global Change Award winner TextileGenesis on their traceability platform. The platform uses blockchain technology to track and verify the use of sustainable fibres.
In 2020, we launched a pilot that tracked three materials through five levels of our supply chain using traceable digital fibrecoin technology. In 2021, we are increasing the scope and working on several scaled pilots for man-made cellulosic materials, recycled polyester and other sustainable and certified materials.
New technology as an enabler
Across the fashion industry, brands are testing and implementing lots of exciting technologies such as fingerprint technologies, DNA testing and other raw material tracers. But supply chains are complex and seldom static, and one-time mapping is not enough. We believe that combining new technology with online shared–industry databases can drastically increase supply chain traceability and at H&M Group we are committed to developing our work in this area.
Standards and policies
Disclosure of our business standards and policies is vital to our transparency work. It enables open access to the rules and regulations that we adhere to, ensuring that we operate our business in the right way for people and the planet.
Sharing information about business standards and policies creates accountability and drives responsibility.
Find out more about our Standards & Policies
For a long time, the fashion industry has lacked a standardised assessment tool for sustainability performance. Companies have used different ways to define, measure and communicate their actions and achievements, which has made comparison difficult and caused customer confusion.
To address this problem, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition has released a Brand and Retail Module (BRM) as part of their Higg Index suite of tools. BRM is an assessment tool that helps brands and retailers to track their environmental and social sustainability performance in a uniform way.
At H&M Group, Higg BRM is helping us to identify and act on sustainability hotspots, as well as bringing increased transparency to our customers.