Zuinig of people.
Since May 2019, we are transparent about the locations of the factories that manufacture products for Zeeman. By signing the Transparency Pledge, we confirm our commitment to greater openness. Zeeman does not have its own factories, so the factories we use also produce for other brands and retailers. We invest in long-term partnerships and know the factories we work with well. All our factories have signed our Code of Conduct.
In addition, 100% of our 1st tier suppliers and a part of our 2nd tier suppliers like spinning mills can be found on the website openapparel.org, where any overlap with other brands and retailers is also visible. We report annually on the major points for improvement that emerge during factory inspections. By being open, we enable stakeholders to address potential points for improvement. In addition, this openness has given us more insight into the overlap that exists with other retailers in shared factories.
On the world map you can navigate to the different countries and see where the production sites are located. 100% of our tier one suppliers are disclosed on this world map. We share the following details: name, address, number of employees, start date of partnership, whether they make textiles or other products, and whether they use sustainable cotton and/or have Oeko-Tex certification. The data is updated twice a year. Only factories we work with on a long-term basis (longer than one year) are included. You can have a look at the world map here.
In this Excel file we indicate our Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 suppliers. We disclose all of our tier 1 suppliers, all of our active wet processing facilities, and around 70% of our tier 3 suppliers. The 70% is based mainly on the traceability of our cotton orders (see KPI in our CSR report), meaning the spinner, ginner and raw material supplier.
Code of Conduct.
Zeeman has developed an extensive code of conduct for all the parties we work with: the Zeeman Code of Conduct. Its main elements are: no forced labor, no discrimination, no child labor, and safe and hygienic working conditions. When we start working with new manufacturers we follow the Zeeman new supplier procedure, we ask about their CSR policies and they must sign the code of conduct, thus declaring that they will comply with it.
At Zeeman we value long-term partnerships. We use our business relationships to achieve positive changes in factories with regard to working conditions. Our aim is to consolidate a supplier base which positively impacts quality, transparency, value of the product as well as lowers the risks of labour rights violations. However, sometimes ending business relationships is inevitable and necessary for these occasions we created a procedure with a responsible exit strategy.
We want all the factories where our products are made to have been inspected by an independent party. Currently, 100% of all factories have been inspected by an independent party, also known as audits. Among other things, we check whether the working conditions are clean and safe, and that there is no forced labor, discrimination or child labor. In addition, we check the factory's quality procedures. Besides, we think it is very relevant to announce the date of an audit in advance to maintain the transparent relationship with the supplier. We do this at 100% of the audits that are taking place.
When a supplier receives a good audit score, we do not immediately schedule a next audit. The audit will be valid for 3 years, in line with Fair Wear requirements.
In order to achieve constructive improvements, cooperation with other retailers and companies, local NGOs and governments is important. That is why we are working together within a number of multi-stakeholder initiatives to improve working conditions.
No forced labor
Freedom to join a union and bargain
No discrimination in the workplace
No child labor
Payment of a living wage
Reasonable working hours
A healthy and safe work environment
A legally binding employment contract
These labor practices are translated in in the languages of the following countries: China, Bangladesh and India.
Fair Wear works with local experts. They inspect and supervise our factories on-site. In addition, a poster will be displayed in all our factories – in a visible place – informing employees of their rights. The poster includes a phone number for a helpline which employees can call if they feel the factory is not following the rules. Reports from factory employees go directly to Fair Wear, who will then contact Zeeman. And together, we'll look for a solution. This system is a solid, targeted complement to our own monitoring. It helps us further improve working conditions in our factories.
In 2020 we will have 30 audits taking place executed by Fair Wear. Additional to this audit, FWF will organize a Workplace Education Program (WEP) training to create awareness among the workers on all labor standards as described above. They will provide the training to both factory managers and workers inside the factory. The aim of the training is to support the social dialogue in the factory which leads to an open communication regarding issues and opportunities to improve the working conditions. The poster including the helpline of Fair Wear can contribute to the potential improvements. Therefore, the WEP training is giving in-depth information on the purpose of the poster and the workers will be informed on how to use this complaint mechanism.
Every year, Fair Wear reviews our efforts by measuring how well we have assessed, identified and resolved issues in our supply-chain. In 2020 the Brand Performance Check was carried out for the first time since our membership. We have received the 'Good' rating, which means that we are well on the way. Of course there are also areas for improvement, which help us determine the next steps. Our aim is to do a little better every day. Read the detailed report here.
Fair Wear Foundation.
In October 2019, we became a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. This means, among other things, that the people who make our clothing and textiles have a safe working environment, receive a living wage, and don’t work too much overtime. You can trust that we adhere to Fair Wear's Code of Labor Practices (CoLP) everywhere we do business. These rules are based on those of the International Labor Organization (ILO):
Our buying practices.
Sustainable buying means that, besides quality and price, the effects on people and the environment are also taken into account during all aspects of buying. In order to increase the integration between CSR and buying, regular consultation takes place between the CSR & Quality and Buying departments. In 2018 we tightened up our buying policy and drew up guidelines together with our buyers. Key priorities are that our buyers are always aware of the exact production location and make sustainable choices when it comes to (raw) materials. We find it important that our selection process doesn't have a negative impact on our suppliers. In order to reduce the risk of overtime, we want to issue our orders on time so that suppliers can plan production properly. In addition, we take into account the share of the total production capacity we use in a factory. We want to build healthy partnerships with our suppliers, without suppliers growing dependent on us.
We evaluate the performance of the suppliers. This is done both prior to the buying trips and afterwards. In addition to the price and quality of the deliveries, we also look at whether any points for improvement that emerged during the audits have been actively worked on. And whether sustainable materials are used.
Our raison d'être is to go for the lowest possible price. We've been doing it for 53 years. But what is possible is also determined by our suppliers. That is why we are increasingly asking how their cost price is structured. We do not want to negotiate a purchase price below the cost of production. This would have a negative impact on the working conditions and wages of factory workers. Our aim is to build long-term partnerships with our suppliers and to work together to make the Zeeman collections more sustainable and to create good and safe working conditions in the supply chain. We've been working with some of our suppliers for more than 30 years. In 2020 we want to ask our manufacturers to evaluate our buying practices by means of an anonymous questionnaire.
The Bangladesh Accord is a unique partnership between various stakeholders. We have made a binding commitment to improve working conditions in the Bangladesh textile industry, where we work directly with 14 factories. These factories have done a lot to improve the points raised by the Bangladesh Accord safety inspections. Three kinds of inspection have taken place under the Accord at every manufacturer in the country: fire safety, building structure, and electricity. In addition, factory employees have been trained to report unsafe situations to supervisors.
When necessary, we support our factories in implementing costly improvements such as sprinkler systems and alarm systems. We do this by pre-financing a portion of the investment. Together with our manufacturers, we want to see 100% of the points for improvement implemented by 2020. The Accord began in 2013 and was renewed in 2018. At the factories where Zeeman is active, 92% of the original points for improvement had been implemented as of the end of 2019. This is also the Accord average for all factories. The goal, provided that well-trained inspectors are available, is to eventually have a local inspection body in place to carry out the Bangladesh Accord’s tasks.
IRBC Agreement on Sustainable
Garments and Textiles.
In 2016, Zeeman signed the IRBC Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textiles. The objective is to work together to make the industry more sustainable. The agreement offers tools to prevent and combat negative impacts by participating in joint activities and projects that we, in business, cannot solve on our own. In 2018, 95 companies were party to the agreement. We again shared all our clothing and textile production sites with the agreement secretariat that year. These have now been published online. The advantage this brings is that the agreement secretariat can now approach us if something is going on at one of our suppliers.
In 2020, we joined a program in the Panipat region of North India. With help of this program we will get more insight in this supply chain. 4 of our direct suppliers are affiliated with this program and together with Goodweave, the 2nd tier suppliers will also be made transparent and assessed. The aim is to create transparency so that it can be stated with more certainty that child and forced labor will not occur. Where that does occur, the program provides training within the community where the child resides. The first quarterly report shows that no child labor was found during the audits of the production locations. We continued the research in 2021 by focusing on sub-contractors and home-workers linked to our 4 direct supplier who participate in the program. No home-work sites were found in our supply chain. Therefore, the focus was mainly on assessing subcontractors.
In addition to the audits, there were also activities conducted by Goodweave in the communities where the factories are located, the so-called "Child Friendly Communities (CFC). For example: Education programs for a total of 8,998 children. At the moment the program is delayed because schools are closed due to the pandemic. In the meantime, E-learning has started in which 2,870 children participate. The parents are also included in the program in which they are informed about the rights that children have. In addition, bank accounts are opened for families who do not yet have this and food is left when families are short.
Our agents and suppliers are our partners. For this reason, we have decided to adopt a targeted approach with the goal of continuity for both our partners and Zeeman itself. Partners with whom, in many cases, we have been doing business for decades. The three most important issues in our Covid-19 policy for suppliers are:
We will not extend our payment term, always 14 days without exception, in this crisis. We are maintaining this as usual and have reconfirmed it to our suppliers.
We have contacted all our suppliers individually regarding current orders: spring orders have largely been shipped already as agreed, some orders have been deferred by mutual agreement, and a small portion has been stored and will be shipped next year. The bulk of our range consists of basic textile products. Long-term contracts have been signed for these. Within the terms of these contracts, we shift numbers according to demand, with the guarantee that 100% of the products will be accepted.
We are also demonstrating our commitment to suppliers for future orders.
We continuously monitor what the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis are for each supplier, not only in terms of financial continuity but also, in particular, in terms of employee welfare. In doing so, we align ourselves with the statement issued by Fair Wear, which also assigns a major role to brands when it comes to wages for garment workers.
To reinforce our approach, Zeeman endorses the ‘Call to action’ as drawn up by the ILO in collaboration with various international parties active in the clothing sector.
We want the employees of Zeeman’s manufacturers to earn a living wage. Our suppliers sign for this in our Code of Conduct. In other words, a wage that is sufficient to cover all basic needs, such as housing, transport, food and healthcare.
The statutory minimum wages set by the government in countries such as India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are often not sufficient to cover all basic needs, such as housing, transport, food and healthcare. Despite the complexity of this topic, we believe it is important to keep taking small steps and gain more insight. That way, in the end, we can start to determine whether the workers in the factory are actually receiving a living wage. That is why we developed a roadmap in 2018 to give concrete form to this important theme in the coming years. During the social audits in 2018-2019, we assessed the difference between the statutory minimum wage, the actual wage and the living wage (based on the AGT benchmark and FWF benchmark). We collected this data for 44 of our suppliers in East Asia and Turkey, which constitutes about 20% of the total number of suppliers. In 2020 we will zoom in on this and we want this information to be available from 40% of our East Asia and Turkish suppliers.
In 2019 we started a pilot program to work towards a living wage at one of our suppliers in Pakistan. Based on this program we calculated that we are currently supporting 1% of our suppliers with a living wage. To read more about the pilot program see link below.
Living-wage project – MYM Knitwear Karachi, Pakistan.