- Additionally, the retailer remains committed to offering customers 100% sustainably sourced cotton
(PRESS RELEASE) LONDON, 6-Jan-2021 — /EuropaWire/ — British multinational retailer M&S announces that it has signed the Call to Action on human rights abuses: Brand Commitment to Exit the Uyghur Region. The retailer is one of the first companies to formally sign The Coalition, this is in line with the company’s long-term focus on ensuring its supply chains are sustainable and ethical, where workers are treated fairly, and their human rights are respected.
As the Call to Action notes, more than 80 percent of China’s cotton is grown in the Uyghur Region, approaching almost 20 percent of global production. In response to mounting evidence of forced labour, the Coalition, (supported by groups including the Ethical Trading Initiative) has set out a series of asks of businesses in order to ensure that their full supply chains—including secondary and tertiary suppliers—are not linked to the human rights abuses in the region.
100% of the cotton used for M&S Clothing is sustainably sourced (the majority Better Cotton Initiative*) and M&S is already one of the few retailers that does not work with any supplier in or source from Xinjiang, in addition to being committed to tackling indirect supply risks. However, M&S has signed up to the important Call to Action to help play its part in driving meaningful change at scale.
Richard Price, M&S Clothing & Home MD said,
“At M&S, sourcing ethically and sustainably is core to how we do business and the promise we make to our customers, that’s why we do not source cotton from Xinjiang. 100% of the cotton in our clothing is more sustainably sourced—from the Better Cotton Initiative material used in our Good Move gym leggings, to the organic cotton in our baby clothes. When it comes to sustainable and ethical clothing, we can only achieve real change at scale by working with others, which is why we are proud to be formally supporting the coalition and providing additional assurance to our customers they can purchase from M&S with confidence.”
Jasmine O’Connor OBE, CEO at Anti-Slavery International said,
“We welcome the leadership shown by Marks & Spencer today to commit publicly to the Call to Action, providing assurance to its consumers that M&S products will not be linked to the abuses of Uyghurs. The Call to Action sets out a clear path of action for brands to follow in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and we call upon other major brands to follow suit with M&S and commit to the Call to Action urgently.”
M&S’s Approach to Ethical Trading
- More widely M&S continues to source and sell products ethically & with care as part of the retailer’s Plan A programme.
- Today’s brand commitment signature follows the recent announcement that M&S is re-launching its ground-breaking Plan A programme in 2021 as part its sustainable business transformation.
- A central part of its sourcing with care is M&S’s Global Sourcing Principles. For over twenty years they have been the foundations of how it works with suppliers around the world in relation to human rights, sustainability, and decent working conditions, including a zero tolerance approach to forced labour.
- Alongside the Global Sourcing Principles every factory M&S works with is independently audited at least once a year, with follow up visits from a dedicated team of 19 colleagues around the world who have over 275 years of experience in ethical trading, these colleagues also support community programmes including important gender equality projects such as HALOW+.
- M&S also continues to commit to ongoing transparency with customers, alongside sharing updates such as signing up to the coalition. M&S was the first major UK retailer to list all its suppliers on an interactive supplier map and today it has information on over 800 factories covering over 700,000 workers.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)—a global not-for-profit organisation—is the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. Together with partners they provide training on more sustainable farming practices to more than 2.3 million cotton farmers in 23 countries.
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SOURCE: Marks and Spencer plc