We have previously discussed why corporate social responsibility is vital in the fashion industry from the perspective of both consumers and fashion brands. But if fashion is ever going to be sustainable, all components of the global fashion chain need to address their corporate social responsibility approaches. Our focus for this blog now shifts to why effective CSR responsibility practices are essential for manufacturers in the chain, focusing on garment factories in particular. Manufacturers and factories must take their responsibility seriously by developing CSR policies which focus on workforce welfare and human rights, as well as addressing environmental sustainability, transparency and accountability. Although there has been reluctance for manufacturers to adopt these policies, there are numerous benefits  to the manufacturer for doing so. The pressure for garment factories to become more transparent, accountable and sustainable through CSR can no longer be ignored.

Corporate social responsibility benefits manufacturers and garment factories

Forward thinking fashion brands such as H&M and Marks and Spencer are aware of the importance of investing in corporate social responsibility strategies aligned with their brand. Many fashion brands are working hard to ensure manufacturers offer fair wages and safe working conditions within their global operations, but there are still issues with transparency and accountability within the supply chain. Unfortunately, some manufacturers are still reluctant to develop effective CSR policies, unaware of the many benefits effective CSR policies offer.

Ensuring good working conditions within garment factories are essential for the safety and welfare of the workforce, highlighted by the Rana Plaza tragedy. Although any reputable garment factory should automatically want to ensure safe working conditions for their staff, conditions that are safe and fair are also financially positive for the factory. Garment factories that provide a safe environment for their workers experience reduced staff turnover, higher productivity and quality production. Staff who feel engaged and empowered are also likely to be more highly trained, resulting in less money lost on goods with defects or made poorly. Manufacturers which are more transparent will be more likely to see partnerships with reputable global fashion brands such as Nike, H&M and Patagonia, who are all dedicated to the The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge.

Manufacturers with effective policies for corporate social responsibility will also develop more streamlined and sustainable production practices, generating greater profits overall.

The challenges of corporate social responsibility for manufacturers

Although CSR seems an obvious future step for manufacturers, there are many challenges which can lead to reluctance to do so. The global nature of fashion production means different languages, governance and cultures can make implementing a coherent, standardised CSR policy more difficult. As a result, a global standard is required. One example is the SA800 standard, comprising of 9 requirements a manufacturer must follow to be considered socially sustainable.  Transparency pledges from major retailers and brands are all vital to ensure fair effective corporate social responsibility across the whole industry. Manufacturers adopting these standards will contribute to the eliminating of sweatshops and help create a fairer, more sustainable fashion industry- an important goal for the entire industry.

Corporate social responsibility must be the future for fashion manufacturers

Socially responsible corporate policies are essential for the entire global fashion chain. Consumers want to engage with socially responsible fashion brands, who are in turn developing effective sustainability policies. Fashion manufacturers and factories must now develop environmentally sound CSR policies which also guarantee a safe working environment for their workforce. We must all take responsibility for ensuring the future of fashion is sustainable.