Zuinig of society.
At Zeeman, we are zuinig of talent and ambition. We train our employees and give them opportunities to grow. For many years now, the Zeeman School has given our store personnel the opportunity to obtain a vocational education or to take part in an internal workshop.
We understand that we cannot solve the complex problems of the fashion industry by ourselves. For this reason, we seek collaboration with other parties to discuss and generate innovative solutions. We fully support the proposed IRBC law in the Netherlands (which is based on the UNGPS and OECD guiding principles) which will hold businesses accountable to act responsibly in terms of human rights, working conditions, and the environment.
We also support the UPV law which will hold the clothing industry accountable for collecting and recycling clothing. At Zeeman, we have already set up garment collection points in all Dutch stores and work with Het Goed in our Resale initiative to sort, re-sell and recycle the items.
In March 2023, Zeeman CSR & Quality Manager Arnoud van Vliet participated in a panel discussion in the House of Representatives about the future of the textile industry. We joined industry leaders, policymakers, raw material producers, and other large-scale fashion brands in this discussion.
Zeeman firmly believes in its mission to transform the textile industry to be Zuinig on people, the planet, and the environment. To achieve this mission collaboration is vital. On the one hand with retailers and brands and just as much within the chain.
Save Our Sisters projects in the production countries.
Zeeman has been supporting a number of projects in Central Asia for many years, in order to give something back to the countries where we produce. The goal is to prevent the sexual exploitation of girls and to help girls and young women who have become victims of human trafficking. There are three projects: in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. In Pakistan, we focus on something completely different: the labor participation of women.
We have been active in Mumbai in India since 2005. Our Save our Sisters project is being carried out there by our partner the Vipla Foundation. We help girls who have unwittingly ended up in prostitution, but who have also been freed from it. We support them to build a new life.
Just like in 2021, in 2022 we focused mainly on girls who have been helped and taken care of in recent years. Many girls have recovered and built a new life but some have not. This was mainly because there was a lot of unemployment during the corona crisis. To prevent these girls from being recruited again, our partner visited and helped them. We were able to give most (of the 180) girls an entrepreneurial education. As a result, they are now able to start their own business. Those who have already made it this far will also receive a small starting capital. Many girls have also received training and guidance.
In total, through all programs together we have helped 572 girls this year. Next to this, 698 group sessions were held for psychological assistance, mostly for girls admitted to the refugee camps after their liberation.
In addition, 256 police officers received training to make them aware of human trafficking. Eight of these police officers have now been selected to focus specifically on liberating girls from prostitution.
Our project in Bangladesh is similar to that in Mumbai — a shelter in the city of Faridpur houses between 20 and 30 girls rescued from prostitution. In total, we were able to help almost 50 girls in their steps toward a new life.
In addition, much has been done to provide information: to teachers, but also to people from other sectors. Group sessions made them aware of the scope and danger of the human trafficking problem.
Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our partner in Bangladesh at the end of 2022. The organization could no longer meet the standards we set in the field of quality and transparency. A new partner has already been found with which we will continue in 2023.
In Pakistan, a completely new activity started in 2022. Here we focus - quite differently from India and Bangladesh - on the participation of women in the labor market. Women are still often banned from factories in Pakistan.
The project revolves around training and equipping a number of women to work independently in factories with which Zeeman has a relationship. Until now, these were factories where men worked almost exclusively.
For this project, we are collaborating with another clothing company in the Netherlands. It will be rolled out further in the coming years. The project is still in its infancy and is quite difficult to undertake in Pakistan. However, we hope that this will start a change and that we can help contribute to Sustainable Development Goal 3, 'equal opportunities for all'.
Local support near our stores.
Many of our store colleagues have a big social heart. At Zeeman, they are given the space with the store team to choose a local charity and to sponsor a local team with competition shirts. We facilitated a clean-up campaign centrally in 2022.
Care for the neighborhood campaign
In March we had a ‘Zuinig' campaign in which we asked our customers to clean the neighborhood together. On Saturday, March 19, 2022, customers could come to one of our 1300 Zeeman stores to collect waste together in the area. The aim was to collect as much waste as possible from all customers and colleagues.
We almost never have unsold goods. If there is anything left over, we put it on clearance. If anything remains unsold even then, or if we have items that we can't sell for any other reason, we donate them to charity. We work with a fixed partner, the Sarfath Foundation. The items we donate end up with people who can put them to good use, in Transylvania, Romania and in Syria.
Good, safe products.
Operating with sustainability in mind also means that we want to offer products with a long lifespan. That is why we pay a lot of attention to the quality of our products. A long-term partnership with a supplier is of great importance in order to be able to guarantee quality. Customers can rely on the quality of our products because our suppliers know our standards.
We test the quality of our products
All products meet our quality standards, and we pay close attention to maintaining those standards. Of course, there are legal requirements that a product must meet. But not everything is laid down in law, so we have also set our own quality requirements. So we work according to fixed, general quality standards. In addition, we regularly test the quality of our products. We perform simple tests ourselves. If a needed test is more complicated, we go to a lab. For example, we perform wash tests, shrinkage tests, color-fastness tests, and lint tests. We believe that the quality of our products should always be good.
To ensure that the test products are not better than the ones that will soon be on our shelves, we also do regular spot checks with (high-risk) products taken right off the shelves of our stores. We have these tested by TÜV Rheinland. In 2022, there were 467 spot checks. 98% of the products met Zeeman's strict standards. For the 11 products, we took corrective measures. These measures varied from replacing a single part to removing the item from sale.