HOW WE PARTNER
When it comes to improving apparel factory conditions and practices, we follow a simple truth: strategic partnerships yield results. We’ve made exciting progress, but we know that some issues are too big to solve on our own, so we look for ways to collaborate with other brands and organizations to tackle these large-scale issues together. Here are just a few examples of how we partner throughout our supply chain to drive widespread change.
THE BANGLADESH ACCORD
In April 2013, the tragic collapse of a building containing multiple factories in Bangladesh prompted significant change within the apparel community. Though none of our affiliate factories were involved, we knew we had to take a stand and join with others in the industry to prevent such an event from ever occurring again. In July 2013, American Eagle Outfitters signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, joining more than 100 brands, trade unions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and workers’ rights advocates to address widespread factory safety issues. The Accord builds on the measures of the National Action Plan on Fire Safety (NAP) and establishes a program over five years to increase factory fire and safety training, review and improve existing safety policies, provide transparent plans for safety remediation and develop an effective worker complaint process. The initiatives laid out in the Accord are supported by The International Labour Organization (ILO ) and monitored by trained safety inspectors. We also support the efforts of other initiatives working to ensure worker safety in Bangladesh, including the NAP and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
Our commitment to the Accord is just one part of our ongoing effort to improve safety in Bangladesh and in all factories. Prior to joining the Accord, we conducted our own fire safety, electrical and structural reviews of all our factories in Bangladesh. We’ve seen the horrible tragedies that result from negligence and we’re working hard to prevent this from happening in our factories.
Since 2009, we’ve collaborated closely with Better Work, an innovative joint venture between the International Labour Organization (ILO ) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). Better Work teams with players across our industry to increase compliance in factories and improve the lives of workers. By conducting factory assessments, providing ongoing training and evaluation and supporting remediation efforts, Better Work drives sustainable change in the entire industry.
Specifically, the unique Better Work model facilitates worker/management committees that increase communication in the workplace, improve worker engagement and lead to more sustainable remediation efforts. Also, by conducting audits in factories for all brands that participate with Better Work, individual factories are less taxed by separate audits from each brand.
In March 2011, American Eagle Outfitters and Better Work Vietnam (BWV) collaborated on an effective training program in two factories in Vietnam. These trainings focused on workers’ rights and international standards for factory conditions. BWV showed videos on these topics and facilitated open discussions between factory management and workers. The goal of this training was to empower workers with the knowledge of their rights and responsibilities and strengthen the workplace environment for all.
In 2013, we signed on as a partner with Better Work, committing to deeper support and combined efforts for our shared goals of sustainable improvement in the apparel industry supply chain. Our current collaborations to improve factory conditions include Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) and Better Work in Haiti, Vietnam and Indonesia.
For more information on Better Work, please visit betterwork.org
HERproject supports the health of female factory workers through a peer education model.
We’ve also recently collaborated with the Better Work program and Business for Social Responsibility to support and fund the first HERproject in factories in Cambodia. The HERproject supports the health of female factory workers through a peer education model that raises awareness, increases health knowledge and provides information on accessible local health services. The HERproject trains peer educators on topics ranging from general reproductive health to the vital role of hygiene and nutrition. We believe that this program has incredible power to provide long-term, sustainable change in the lives of factory workers.
For more information on HERproject, please visit herproject.org