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Pentland Brands launches ethical trade app to combat modern slavery

By Huw Hughes

Jun. 18, 2019

Fashion

Pentland Brands, the company behind sports, outdoor and footwear brands such as Berghaus and Canterbury, has launched a new ethical trade app to help people throughout its supply chain spot issues and combat modern slavery.

Developed in collaboration with sustainability and corporate responsibility consultancy Carnstone Partners, the new ‘Everyone’s Business’ app has been developed as a tool to engage and educate employees in responsible labour sourcing, and to facilitate the reporting of any issues throughout the supply chain.

The app allows users to relay concerns to a dedicated in-house corporate responsibility team, and can be used in any country where Pentland’s brands have suppliers. The app is designed to be used by merchandisers, quality managers and buyers, and employees that frequently visit suppliers.

“We’re really proud to be helping our colleagues to understand, identify and report ethical trade issues as they arise. It allows our colleagues to speak up if they have concerns, in a consistent way that’s recordable and transparent,” Sara Brennan, head of corporate responsibility at Pentland Brands, said in a statement. “Ultimately, it helps us continue to operate to high labour and human rights standards. As a business, we believe in doing the right thing, not the easy thing, and this app helps us to make better, more informed ethical decisions.”

More needs to be done to combat modern slavery

William Pickett, partner at Carnstone Partners, added: “Everyone’s Business is an important tool because it offers a way to involve all factory-facing employees on the responsible labour sourcing agenda. Information gathered from these many visits can be used by the ethical trade teams to make informed decisions when engaging with suppliers and managing supplier risks.”

In recent years, a growing number of companies have taken steps to tackle the issue of modern slavery in the fashion industry. In November 2018, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, New Look, Next, River Island and Shop Direct joined forces with Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) to root out criminality and shine a light on hidden victims in the fashion supply chain. But the industry still has a long way to go. In March, Asos released its latest Modern Slavery Statement, a statement that calls on other brands to identify and address modern slavery and transparently report on actions they’re taking to combat it. In the statement, Asos revealed that only 42 percent of all the brands it sells currently meet its requirements. Asos said it wants the brands which form the largest percentage of its sales to meet these requirements by 2020.

According to the 2018 Global Slavery Index, approximately 40 million people around the world are living in modern slavery, with the fashion industry acting as the second biggest contributor to the issue. The report identified the top five products at risk of modern slavery in each of the G20 countries. Garments came in second place, after technology (laptops, computers and mobile phones). Fish, cocoa and sugarcane took the following three places.

Photo credit: Alex Andrews, Pexels