making progress toward Bangladesh worker safety

September 25, 2013 - Article reads in
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In July, Target joined the Bipartisan Policy Center and other North American retailers in announcing the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the launch of the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, a binding agreement focused on elevating safety conditions for garment workers across Bangladesh through measurable, sustainable actions.

Since its debut, the alliance—which now consists of 22 brands and retailers—has achieved several critical milestones. They include the development of a draft set of common safety standards; the creation of a curriculum for worker safety training; and the identification of an innovative means to empower worker voices. And in September, the alliance announced that human-rights expert and attorney Jeffrey Krilla had been hired as its president.

Target serves as one of four retailers on the alliance’s board of directors, which is responsible for making sure the alliance is meeting or exceeding all requirements of the Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative, and ensuring that all the members meet expectations and milestones.

“Having just returned from Bangladesh, I am encouraged by the great progress the Alliance is making toward improving worker safety,” says Daniel Duty, Target’s vice president of Global Affairs and Alliance board member. “Despite the complexity of these issues, I am optimistic that our continued collaboration with government, civil society, and all other interested parties will result in innovative solutions and sustainable change.”

As a company, Target has focused for several years on improving safety in the Bangladesh factories where we do business. Those improvements include the amplification of our fire safety training and an expansion of our factory audit practices to make our Bangladesh audits the most comprehensive of any country from which we source. We’ve also consolidated our factory footprint, which enables more controlled oversight, and all of our factories in Bangladesh have been audited by a member of the Target team in the past 12 months.

Our auditors are incredibly knowledgeable and trained on our processes, tools, forms and standards. While Target’s footprint in Bangladesh is relatively small, we believe we can help drive meaningful change by aligning our efforts with other brands, trade associations, non-governmental organizations, labor groups, the International Labor Organization, and the U.S. and Bangladeshi governments.

Working together to tackle the challenges that exist in Bangladesh is crucial to creating sustainable change that positively impacts the country’s millions of factory workers. We believe the plan developed by the alliance will complement the thoughtful work being done by others to advance worker safety, including the efforts of the European brands and other organizations. These initial steps are encouraging, and we look forward to continuing as an active participant in the alliance.

Target’s brand promise states that guests can "Expect More" and "Pay Less." We’re committed to being a destination for affordable items, but we’re also devoted to being a valuable partner in our communities, a great place to work and a responsible global citizen. That promise is the core of what we do—and the two commitments go hand-in-hand, which is why we’ll continue to focus on ensuring the products we source are made safely and responsibly and meet our high standards. Low-cost production should create value for our guests, but should never compromise our commitment to uphold ethical business practices and ensure workplace safety.

To learn more about specifics of the initiative, check out the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety's website.


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