Improving Lives of Apparel and Footwear Workers…Together
The following post by Steve Rendle, VF’s Chairman, President & CEO, was published on March 23,2018 on LinkedIn. The full text is also available below.
Since our founding in 1899, we’ve worked hard to operate our business with integrity, evolving and adapting to changes to ensure we meet our standards and lead by example, in both good and challenging times.
On April 24, 2013, an apparel factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed killing more than 1,400 people and injuring about 2,500 more. The historic tragedy at Rana Plaza was the result of lenient safety and building standards in the Bangladeshi apparel industry. It was also a painful wake-up call for our company and our global industry.
Neither VF nor our brands were producing apparel at Rana Plaza when the building collapsed. But as one of the leading companies in our sector, it was our responsibility to act and to join others in acting. And so began our journey, and the industry’s journey, to identify and address the challenges across the global apparel supply chain together – in Bangladesh and beyond.
Apparel and footwear companies. Governments. NGOs. Labor unions. Academia. For the past five years, we’ve worked together. And we have made substantial improvements. But we also clearly understand that this important work is never done.
Earlier this week, VF was honored with the Corporate Statesmanship Award from the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress for our work to help improve the lives of apparel and footwear workers and their communities around the world. Through our Responsible Sourcing program, we have taken actions to affect positive changes that have a lasting impact, while also setting and maintaining high standards for human rights, workplace safety and environmental responsibility.
VF may be the company being honored with this award, but we accept it on behalf of all the people, organizations, companies and government entities that helped us achieve what we did – it took all of us, working hard across the world, to protect the people that power our industry.
I am proud of the work VF associates and our partners have accomplished through our Responsible Sourcing program. But we still have a great deal of work to do. We are and will remain committed to the journey and will continue to collaborate with others to get this important work done.
We encourage others across our industry to join us in this effort. Advancing progress must continue, no matter how small or large the effort – it all makes a difference.
Responsible sourcing of apparel and footwear must always come before irresponsible profits.