Investors Urge North American Companies to Adopt Bangladesh Accord; A Common Framework for Industry
New York, Thursday, June 6, 2013: A global coalition of over 200 institutional investors representing $2 trillion has issued a public call for apparel brands and retailers to endorse the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh. Separately, investors sent a letter to five North American apparel trade associations urging them to support this critical initiative.
The Accord represents a multi-stakeholder approach to resolving worker safety issues and includes the participation of both unions and civil society organizations advocating on behalf of workers. Over 40 global brands and retailers have already adopted and begun work on the Accord. Acknowledging the urgent need to implement legally binding and internationally accepted protocols to protect apparel workers in Bangladesh, the investor coalition believes the Accord offers the best path forward.
In press reports as well as a written response received this week from the five North American trade associations, we learned that an alternative “Safer Factory Initiative” is being developed and that this initiative is supported by a number of key North American brands and retailers. While we have yet to see any details on this new initiative, we are concerned that the initiative:
1) Could divide the industry and dilute the impact of a systemic solution that puts worker safety first
2) Appears to be voluntary and may not be legally enforceable
3) Lacks adequate representation by unions and civil society that is necessary to ensure worker safety and worker rights
4) Does not compel companies to fully disclose all suppliers throughout their supply chains
We call on all apparel brands and retailers to join together quickly to find solutions that will prevent catastrophes such as Rana Plaza from recurring. This new North American initiative will take time to develop while the Accord is already in place. The onus rests with the members of this new initiative to provide compelling justification for not signing the Accord which commands strong international support from global companies, civil society and the International Labor Organization. We urge all companies to adopt the Accord and work towards a common framework for the industry.
Sr. Barbara Aires – Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey
Lauren Compere – Boston Common Asset Management
Rev. Seamus Finn – Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
Bennett Freeman – Calvert Investments
Adam Kanzer – Domini Social Investments, LLC
Jonas Kron – Trillium Asset Management, LLC
David Schilling – Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
This release was originally published by Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which is solely responsible for its content.