strategic labor programs

FACTORY FIRE AND BUILDING SAFETY

Factory fire and building safety continues to be a major challenge across the apparel industry, particularly in developing countries like Bangladesh. We need the factories where our products are made to be safe so that workers are protected and able to work in an environment without the threat of fire, building collapse, or other preventable accidents.

In 2013, we made an important decision to join 220 global apparel companies in signing the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety—an unprecedented five-year independent, legally binding agreement to build a safe and healthy ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. The agreement was signed in the immediate aftermath of the Rana Plaza building collapse that took the lives of more than 1,100 people and injured more than 2,000. While none of our affiliate factories were located in Rana Plaza, we knew we had to be part of the movement to ensure the safety of our workers.

We remain fully committed to our investment in the Accord. We actively support factories to complete the Accord’s structural, fire, and electrical safety inspections, remediation, and training activities at all our factories in Bangladesh.

We’ve learned a lot from our experience with the Accord and feel an obligation to expand our learnings to other countries where there is aging infrastructure that could present risks to workers. AEO has launched its own Global Fire and Building Safety guideline that incorporates insights from the Bangladesh Accord. As part of this program, we are providing training followed by inspections to monitor adherence, starting with factories in Pakistan and India.

worker survey program

Our goal is to encourage the factories we work with to foster an environment in which workers feel comfortable raising and discussing labor concerns in a constructive manner.

Since 2014, we’ve worked with key factory partners to implement worker survey programs, which give workers a voice and provide a process of listening and follow-up to better support workers and improve the work environment.

We start with conducting anonymous surveys to gather worker feedback on health and safety, engagement, communication, and satisfaction. Next, we share the results with factory management and work with them to identify and implement next steps to address findings, then follow-up six months later to measure progress.

Success is when each factory has its own internal grievance procedures in place to independently manage effective internal communication channels.

better work

We want to support stable, sustainable improvement in working conditions at the factories that make our apparel and help transform the industry for the better. Through our continued partnership with Better Work in collaboration with other brands, we remain committed to increasing factory compliance and improving the lives of workers. Since 2009, we’ve collaborated with Better Work to implement programs at 52 factories across Bangladesh, Cambodia Vietnam, Indonesia, Jordan, and Haiti.