Corporate Responsibility
Opportunities & Challenges
 

Every step within our global supply chain - from the sourcing of raw materials to the environmental footprint of our retail stores - presents us with opportunities for continual improvement. Some arise at a specific moment in time, while others require engagement and collaboration with our business partners to find the right solution. Each day we learn something new, and we use these learnings to make VF better.

At the heart of our approach to addressing day-to-day challenges in a strategic and community-conscious manner is our strong belief that every individual has certain basic rights, including the right to:

  • Fair compensation;
  • Associate freely and bargain collectively;
  • Work free from discrimination and harassment; and 
  • A safe, clean workplace.

This approach helps ensure that VF-owned and operated facilities, as well as those of our suppliers and licensees, understand and comply with our high standards. From the manner in which cotton is picked to how leather is sourced and feathers are collected, VF will continue to build the foundation for designing sustainable products with minimal environmental impacts.

Specific supply chain issues remain at the forefront for responsible apparel and footwear manufacturers, a few of which - together with our response - are listed below.

Uzbekistan Cotton:

As a large consumer of textiles produced with cotton, we are well aware of the child labor issues in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan. As Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exporters of cotton, we have pledged, along with many other brands, the following:

We, the undersigned companies are working to ensure that forced child labor does not find its way into our products. We are aware of reports documenting the systemic use of forced child labor in the harvest of cotton in Uzbekistan. We are collaborating with a multi-stakeholder coalition to raise awareness of this very serious concern, and press for its elimination.

As a signatory to this pledge, we are stating our firm opposition to the use of forced child labor in the harvest of Uzbek cotton. We commit to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of our products until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced child labor in its cotton sector. Until the elimination of this practice is independently verified by the International Labor Organization, we will maintain this pledge.


The above was compiled through the cooperation of the Responsible Sourcing Network. More information is available at http://www.sourcingnetwork.org/cotton/.

In addition, we have developed a policy that has been communicated to our direct fabric suppliers:

VF Corporation: Policy on Cotton Fiber Sourcing from Uzbekistan

There have been ongoing concerns regarding the use of government-backed forced child labor during the cotton picking season in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is the third largest exporter of cotton in the world and responsible for approximately 10 percent of world cotton trade. As a result, VF has been participating in a coalition with other leading brands and retailers, industry associations, socially responsible investors and non-governmental organizations to raise awareness of this very serious issue and to convince the Uzbekistan government to eliminate this practice. Until this matter is resolved, we are asking all VF vendors and licensees to cease sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan.

We understand that the cotton supply chain is complex and that tracing the origin of cotton in finished products is very difficult. However, we are asking our vendors and licensees to make their best efforts to trace their cotton sources and ensure that Uzbek cotton is not used in any VF product.

VF Corporation and individual brands may take a more concerted effort to request cotton sourcing information from suppliers and/or proof of due diligence of raw material country of origin in order to further pursue this matter.

We greatly value your partnership in this endeavor and look forward to communicating with you on this issue and others in the future. Thank you for your cooperation with our efforts.

 

Sandblasting

The sandblasting of jeans has become a concern as improperly protected operators using silica-based sand can develop silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by inhaling silica dust.

VF is encouraging its suppliers to ban the sandblasting process from all their production. When this is not possible, the factory must provide all the necessary personal protective equipment to the workers involved in this process and they must be provided with specific health care checks to avoid any damage to their lungs.

In 2010 we committed to eliminate all sandblasting from within our entire supply chain in our jeans production by the end of 2011. Our production managers have confirmed that no sandblasting process is used in any of our owned facilities worldwide.

In addition we have signed with The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers' Federation's (ITGLWF) industry call to action to stop this process.

For further information on these or other issues, please contact Sustainability@vfc.com.