April 28, 2009

News flash: Green really might be the new black.

What if sustainable, ethical clothing becomes the norm instead of the exception? As apparel companies focus in on value rather than price in sourcing, that very scenario was floated at the WWD Sourcing & Supply Chain Leadership Forum earlier this month, by no less an industry player than Rick Darling, president of sourcing giant Li & Fung USA.
“I actually think [corporate social responsibility] is becoming very much an assumed trait,” said Darling. “The debates about whether it costs money or doesn’t cost money are no longer valid… I think sustainability will probably be, along with quality, the two main decision-making premises for most sourcing decisions that are going to be made over the next five to 10 years.”
Li & Fung itself is in the process of calculating the carbon footprint of its 10,000 suppliers in 80 countries, no easy task. Meanwhile, at Avon, social responsibility is no longer an optional part of doing business.
“Corporate responsibility should not be an island off the coast of your business,” said Susan Arnot Heaney, director of corporate responsibility, public relations and communications at Avon. “It is how you do your business, and people in the area of supply chain and sourcing are really on the front lines.”…

She warned that focusing on one or two issues, like human rights and working conditions, rather than the entire scope of issues under the social responsibility umbrella leaves companies vulnerable.

“Consumers, advocates, activists, NGOs [nongovernment organizations], the media, legislators — they are all really paying attention to this,” said Heaney. “It’s no longer just nice to do.”

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