Global Responsibility Survey: The results

As part of its GR action plan, the IAF has held a survey among its members. The response was good and global. The results highlight the strategic importance of Global Responsibility for IAF’s apparel associations and their members. Labour conditions and factory safety weigh most heavily. A majority of respondents that know of Ruggie’s Guiding Principles support the IAF in working to adopt these in the apparel industry. The existence of these Guiding Principles appear to be not very well known.
The IAF held an important survey among its members on global corporate sustainability (or Global Responsibility/GR) as part of its ‘GR Action Plan’. The survey was mainly aimed at national apparel associations. The reply was truly global, covering among others, responses from India, China, the US, Sri Lanka, Colombia and many European countries.

Statistics

The majority  (60%) of respondents believed the issue of global corporate sustainability to be of strategic importance for their members requiring full attention of the association. These members are mainly concerned about standardization of laws, labels, schemes (64%) and are looking for guidance in choosing the right actions to take (60%). Labour conditions and factory safety (82% and 73% respectively) were most often named as the main elements of global corporate sustainability for the association’s members, followed by water/energy use and chemical use (both 60%). Interestingly, the UN’s Ruggie Framework as a global framework to help align action and create more clarity about the roles of business, government and other stakeholders, is not well known. 58% is not familiar with the UN’s Ruggie’s Guiding Principles. Of those in the know, the majority (75%) though is in favour of IAF’s support of global guiding principles.



Open questions

From the open questions in the survey it emerged that clearly, associations are playing a major role in transferring knowledge about global corporate responsibility to the apparel companies, their members. They are an indispensable force in creating awareness and in translating complex frameworks and best practices into advice on concrete actions that can be taken by the many, many SMEs in our industry. IAF’s member associations are a clear voice urging for more standardization to prevent their members from suffering from audit fatigue. The IAF has both buyers and manufacturers as its members. It actually embodies that buyers and manufacturers are two side of the same coin; buyers and manufacturers can only solve global corporate responsibility issues together.

Next steps

Based on this survey’s results and on the existing GR action plan the IAF is taking further action on the important issue of GR. We are:

  • Building a body of knowledge on our website that Associations may use to shape their GR services to their members. We are open for questions about GR.
  • Pursuing further with UN and OECD the matter of global guiding principles.
  • Working on standardization and reduction of audit fatigue, based on these principles
  • Continuing to represent our members and their (often SME) members in emerging GR power blocs such as the SAC (Sustainable Apparel Coalition) the Accord on Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety and the Alliance on Worker Safety in Bangladesh.

But the IAF also can help its members right now with Global Corporate Responsibility. We are ready to answer your questions about global GR developments and the translation of these to your association or company. With knowledge and contacts we are sure we can offer a valuable contribution. The survey shows that the demand for knowledge is there! For more information, please contact Matthijs Crietee: crietee@iafnet.com

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