Close
 

Don’t be afraid to examine your supply chain, says Kathmandu

  • News
  • August 27, 2018
  • Sarah Dunn
Don’t be afraid to examine your supply chain, says Kathmandu

Some apparel companies approach supply chain transparency from a “box-ticking” perspective because they’re scared of what they might find if they take a harder look, says Kathmandu’s corporate social responsibility manager Gary Shaw.

In June, Kathmandu became the first company in the Southern Hemisphere to achieve

“Responsible sourcing can often be misunderstood as an external obligation, some kind of duty that we have to do or should do, rather than a reflection of the company’s values,” Shaw says.

He explains that rigorously maintaining ethical sourcing should be a natural and logical response to a company’s key values, and not something to shy away from in favour of a “box-ticking” approach that prioritises protecting the brand.

“It changes everything because you’re not afraid of finding bad stuff.”

Asked what Kathmandu may have had to be concerned about in its supply chain, Shaw says no company with an international supply chain is perfect.

He says the issues Kathmandu found in its supply chain were not unusual for a company with an international supply chain and were in line with general expectations. They included things like breakdowns in health and safety procedures over time, workers doing more overtime than they should, and fire escapes that hadn’t been updated.

As part of its new approach to protecting and enhancing the human rights of workers in its global supply chain, Kathmandu has introduced the use of Chinese social media platform WeChat as a grievance mechanism.

“You can stick a health and safety poster on the wall with an English email on it saying ‘If you’ve got any problems, get in touch’… but most workers don’t speak English or use email.”

In order to lower the barriers for factory workers to report grievances and give feedback, Kathmandu has created a QR code for them to scan with their phones which will connect them with the company’s WeChat account. A translator then interprets their words for Shaw and others to assess.

Shaw says the initial feedback was “pretty standard” – questions about contracts, whether various factory procedures are normal – but others have asked, “Why are you going this extra step?”

A few months earlier in the year, Kathmandu collaborated with five competitors who’d been working with the same Chinese factory to bring about “immediate transparency” in a case where the factory had been carrying out unauthorized subcontracting.

Unauthorised subcontracting is a widespread issue in international apparel manufacturing. It’s problematic because it effectively sends the garments being worked on “underground” and out of the visibility of the company that’s contracted the work. Factories which take on unauthorised subcontracting typically operate under less stringent ethical conditions and may not comply with legal labour standards.  

Kathmandu was alerted to this situation via a grievance lodged through its WeChat system.

“For us, that’s the system working,” Shaw says.

The six companies affected sent a combined letter of concern to the factory in question, and worked with its management to find out why the unauthorised subcontracting had happened. An immediate audit was also implemented.

“It’s not about looking for perfection, just transparency,” Shaw says. “When you look at the many and varied human rights challenges around the world, no one company can address them on their own.”

He speaks of a broader culture in apparel where companies avoid examining their supply chains for fear of finding out bad news.

“So many corporations have their head in the sand, [with an attitude of] ‘We just want to protect our brand and tick that box.’”

As for consumers, Shaw believes there’s some leading and some following to be done on both sides. Consumers have been a vocal catalyst for change in demanding for more transparent supply chains in apparel through movements like Fashion Revolution’s #whomademyclothes campaign, but there’s still plenty of shoppers fueling the rise of fast fashion.

“There’s research been done that people want it but when the price isn’t low, they don’t follow through on their values,” he says. “We can only offer an alternative for people who want to live out their values.”

“I think once people catch the excitement, the passion, the impact they can make from choosing to buy from a brand that lives out its values, hopefully more consumers will make the switch.”

Shaw says it makes sense from a values-based perspective for retailers to do their utmost to purge their supply chains of unethical activity.

“If you go back to why most businesses were started, it’s to do good.”

Profit is important for continuity, Shaw says, but before they were “weighed down and enslaved by the profit margin,” most businesses were founded upon original values which prioritised making a positive impact in the world.

 “It’s about changing for good rather than [taking] a defensive, risk-management approach.”

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

 

Thank you, next: Dunedin welcomes Ocho chocolate shortly after Cadbury's exit

  • News
  • November 16, 2018
Thank you, next: Dunedin welcomes Ocho chocolate shortly after Cadbury's exit

Less than a year after Cadbury announced its decision to move production out of Dunedin, the area has welcomed in its newest chocolate producing resident – Ocho.

Read more
 
 
Sponsored Content

International shipping - Here’s how to jump the queue

GoSweetSpot’s platform takes the guesswork out of freight services, whether your needs are local, international or both.

 
 

Pip Elliott to leave MPA

  • Who's Where
  • November 15, 2018
  • Caitlin Salter
Pip Elliott to leave MPA

Magazine Publishers Association executive director Pip Elliot has announced she will leave the position in December. Elliot joined the MPA in February 2015 and has been responsible for the day-to-day management of the industry body ever since.

Read more
 

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

 
topics
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Sisterhood
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...
 
Sponsored content

SongHubs: Supporting the next generation

SongHubs is a collaborative song writing program with the goal of supporting New Zealand music creators and encouraging collaboration. The program is supported by NZ ...

 
 

The Warehouse Group moves to include Alipay and UnionPay

  • News
  • November 15, 2018
The Warehouse Group moves to include Alipay and UnionPay

New Zealand's largest retailer, The Warehouse, is accepting a couple of alternative payment methods favoured by Asian customers, including UnionPay and Alipay.

Read more
 

300 bottles of beer on the wall: Grey Lynn gets new craft beer store

  • News
  • November 15, 2018
300 bottles of beer on the wall: Grey Lynn gets new craft beer store

Craft beer enthusiasts have been given a treat in the shape of Grey Lynn’s newest tenant, the Bottle Stop. One of Auckland’s most extensive range of craft beer under one roof.

Read more
 
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise
The Register

editor@theregister.co.nz

Content marketing/advertising? Email anita.hayhoe@icg.co.nz or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit

}