July 9, 2013
As a leader in the retail industry, Target understands the importance of high ethical standards and what they mean for our partners, including the vendors and factory workers who supply our products.
This morning, we joined other leading North American retailers in announcing the creation of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and, along with it, the launch of the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, which aims to elevate safety conditions for garment workers across Bangladesh.
By joining the alliance—a binding agreement focused on improving working conditions through measurable, sustainable actions—we hope to drive meaningful, industry-wide change.
Below, Tim Mantel, president of Target Sourcing Services, took some time to help us understand what this means.
What is the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety?
Tim Mantel: The alliance is a coalition of 17 North American retailers, including Target. Target has been an active participant throughout the process, providing input and transparently sharing information regarding our current sourcing processes, challenges and opportunities that we’ve seen in Bangladesh and other countries.
Up until this point, what was Target doing about factory safety in Bangladesh?
Tim: We take a firm stance with our vendors. In order to do business with Target, they must agree to abide by Target’s Standard of Vendor Engagement, which has been a part of our sourcing practices since 1996.
In addition, we’ve been intently focused for several years on creating a safer business environment and addressing the unique challenges that exist in Bangladesh. We’ve expanded the scope of our audit for the factories there, specifically to support fire and building safety. Our audits in Bangladesh are the most thorough of any country from which we source. We’ve also consolidated our business with factories that have committed to,and achieved, better safety standards.
What is the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative?
Tim: Addressing the challenges in Bangladesh demands a long-term, sustainable strategy. The initiative is an actionable plan that we believe will make a real difference for the country’s garment industry. The plan focuses on five priorities: worker training and empowerment; standards for fire and building safety assessments; sharing of factory inspection and training information; governance; and funding.
Why did Target decide to participate in the alliance? Why didn’t Target sign on to the European Accord?
Tim: Great product should never come at the expense of worker safety, and we’re committed to ensuring our products are sourced responsibly. We believe collaborating with the alliance is the right solution for Target, and builds on the work we’re already doing to ensure worker safety in Bangladesh.
The alliance and the accord are working towards the same goal – improve factory conditions in Bangladesh. The alliance’s initiative is designed to be complementary to the European Accord.
So what comes next?
Tim: As the initiative is effective immediately, we will begin layering the alliance’s work into our current processes. Target also will serve as one of four retailers on the alliance’s board of directors, which is responsible for making sure all requirements of the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative are being met, its members are meeting expectations and milestones.
Learn more about Target’s work in Bangladesh in this year’s Corporate Responsibility Report. You can also find details about the alliance and its action plan at bangladeshworkersafety.org
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