Fashion Priorities: a new GFA report on a net positive industry
A report released today by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) is designed ‘to guide fashion leaders towards a net positive fashion industry – a fashion industry which puts back more into society, the environment and the global economy than it takes out.’
The report, ‘The GFA Monitor – Progression to a Net Positive Fashion Industry’ seeks to close the gap between the industry’s ambitious sustainability and human rights targets and the fact that ‘systemic issues remain and progress is too slow’. The systemic issues outlined by the report are: decreasing emissions, reducing conventional virgin resource use and progress towards achieving a living wage and fair compensation. The report aims to provide guidance on what the industry needs to prioritise and how it should act in order to generate sustainable change.
ACT and the ACT approach are a cornerstone to the recommendations on the GFA’s social priorities. Enabling Freedom of Association, facilitating collective bargaining and responsible purchasing practices to develop better wage systems and safe and secure work environments will be key to the future of the industry. The report suggests clear actions, targets, proven best practices, data insights and solutions to promote progress against the five sustainability priorities of the Fashion CEO Agenda: Respectful and Secure Work Environments, Better Wage Systems, Resource Stewardship, Smart Materials Choices and Circular Systems. The GFA Report highlights ACT and the agreements and commitments made by ACT members as an avenue to make progress on several of these priorities but in particular under Better Wage Systems.
Under Better Wage Systems the GFA Monitor outlines the responsibility that brands and retailers have to address poverty in the industry through the industry-wide implementation of wages that meet the basic needs of workers. It also emphasises the ‘far-reaching benefits for brands and their shareholders: reduced business risk, more motivated workers, improved employee loyalty, and lower absence rates.’
In order to ensure that ‘better wages’ meet the basic needs of workers the report states that wages and other benefits should be negotiated between employers and trade unions, the workers’ representatives, along the length of the supply chain. For brands too, the report argues that they must act in lockstep, engaging in supply chain social dialogue, with suppliers, trade unions, governments, and NGOs in order to bring about better wage systems throughout the industry.
The GFA Monitor outlines four key areas for action:
- Adopting more responsible purchasing practices that reflect direct and indirect labour costs in supplier payments and support long-term partnerships with manufacturers
- Enabling the implementation of the right to freedom of association and promoting an environment in which collective bargaining agreements help ensure reasonable wage growth
- Promoting wage parity by putting mechanisms in place to enable all workers to partake in wages and benefits that have been negotiated, regardless of gender, race, and nationality
- Promoting wage protection and security, e.g., by adopting digital wage payments (wire transfers) and implementing responsible order exit processes and policies
While the industry convenes in Copenhagen this week for the Global Fashion Forum the report delivers an important challenge for industry leaders:
“Going forward, fashion brands must continue to collaborate with their manufacturing partners and participate in convening with an alliance of actors to improve the work environments for people employed throughout the fashion value cycle.’
A net positive fashion future requires an industry with broad horizons, willing to deepen their collaboration with all stakeholders across the fashion value cycle.