Sustainability & Responsibility
Dec 05, 2018

When is big better

We’re turning the traditional thinking “big is bad” on its head by creating a scalable business that does well by doing good.  We call this approach “transforming through scale” and it’s all about using our size and influence to lead the positive transformation we believe is needed in our industry.

Our purpose puts sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet on a par with profit; ultimately creating shareholder value by being a force for social and environmental gains.

We focus our combined business expertise, the ingenuity of our brand teams, and the creativity of our innovators to prove there’s more value in solving climate change than contributing to it, in driving workplace safety than allowing status quo, in building communities than burdening them, and in protecting the environment than destroying it.

Leveraging our scale for good is inspiring a movement of passionate individuals across the world—for our 50,000 talented associates, our stakeholders and even the millions of our consumers. Together, we can energize several million more advocates to do good for both people and the planet.

Our purpose is as alive in our portfolio as it is in our people, as demonstrated by our first-ever purpose-led acquisition: Icebreaker.

Icebreaker is just one of the many innovative, purpose-driven brands in our portfolio— from the active and outdoor brands to our workwear and lifestyle brands, each one supports our purpose in distinctive ways. And as the VF continues to evolve, one thing remains the same – purpose will always be at the heart of our business. 

Our global supply chain is one of our biggest opportunities to scale our good effectively and efficiently. The Global Responsible Sourcing Team sets higher standards for our global supply chain operations, holding our suppliers to the same rigorous ethical, environmental, and social standards we meet ourselves.

Each day, we are presented with decisions throughout our supply chain, both large and small, that give us the opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to being Purpose-led, and it’s essential that we stay true to our vision.

In August of 2019, we became the first brand to stop sourcing leather from the country of Brazil.  After years of due diligence, we lost confidence in the origination of the leather hides and learned some hides may be coming from the Amazon biome, which is strictly prohibited in our ADM policy. After our decision, several other brands followed suit and conversations have begun to help halt the exports of all hides from the Amazon biome.   

There are more than 10 million people working in the apparel industry in Bangladesh where VF accounts for roughly two percent of the country’s GDP. It’s here that we’ve used our influence and scale to improve the safety of our factory workers. VF was a founding member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety (now known as Nirapon), which ensures better factory buildings and fire safety through self-regulation. In Jordan and Turkey, we’ve supported the United Nations and the European Union in creating comprehensive processes for employing refugees in apparel factories.

Created in 2017, our Worker and Community Development program is set to positively impact the lives of more than one million people annually by 2025. 

In its first year, the program helped nearly 150,000 people with dramatic results. Through a partnership with VisionSpring, more than 25,000 workers in the VF supply chain in Bangladesh and India were given free eye exams. Forty-two percent of workers required vision correction with eyeglasses, with 74% of those tested receiving their first pair of glasses ever.

As a result, workers said they were better able to help their children with homework, easily prepare meals, and more clearly read text messages and books. Those who received glasses reported an 87% decrease in headaches and fatigue, likely caused by eyestrain.​ Meanwhile, production managers and supervisors reported returned 46% fewer garments for correction and saw a 3% increase in productivity overall.

As a business Made for Change, there’s no bigger test of our ability to catalyze change than the climate crisis. We’re using our scale, influence, and ingenuity to adapt our operations and create a cleaner, greener business.

We are committed to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of our business across our value chain and are among the first companies to set science-based targets to align with the 1.5. degree pathway identified by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report On Global Warming.

Recently, we established our targets using the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi)—a collaboration between the Carbon Disclosure Project, the World Resources Institute, the World Wildlife Fund, and the UN Global Compact.  Through our targets we committed to cutting our environmental impact by 50% by 2050 and to reducing the materials used to make our products by 35% by 2030.

We know when a company our size gets behind something, impacts are felt quickly. So whether we’re leaning in with our purpose-led team, workplace safety, worker wellbeing, or even climate change, size does matter and bigger really can be better.

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