All of us at Patagonia have been shaken by the recent tragic events in Bangladesh. We offer our deepest condolences to all of the victims and their families. We are monitoring the press, the actions of governments around the world in response and the courageous efforts by the charities on the ground. Our stakeholders may ask what Patagonia is doing to monitor its supply chain and help prevent in our partner factories another occurrence of this kind of tragedy.
Two decades ago we began seriously examining social and environmental issues in our supply chain. The more we learned, the more worried we became. So back in the mid-1990s Patagonia helped create the Fair Labor Association (FLA), a multi-stakeholder initiative whose sole purpose is to promote fair, safe and healthy conditions in factories worldwide. The FLA has been auditing our factories since the early 2000s and our own Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program since 2008. Regular supplier auditing, training and education by committed brands has, in part, eradicated child labor and some forms of forced labor as well as led to minor improvements in health and safety.
We fully recognize that some factories over the past 10 years have stepped up to the plate to do everything responsible brands do in their CSR efforts, including CSR reporting. Unfortunately, these exemplary factories are few and far between. We are constantly searching the globe to find them. When we do, we put them through our rigorous screening process before we place the first order. You can find sketches of many of these factories on Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles.
[Above: Shane Prukop, president of Trupart Manufacturing in Ventura, California, shows Patagonia’s Social and Environmental Responsibility team the River Crampon he makes for our company. Photo: Jim Little]