Responsibly Made

The environments in which our products are made and the materials used to make them form a critical part of our ethical responsibility. The Cotton On Group’s Ethical Sourcing Program underpins all the decisions we make when sourcing our products.

As a business, we are proud of what we've been able to achieve on this journey thus far.

At the same time, we know we are on a path of continuous improvement and need to continually find new and better ways of operating.

For our team members and customers to trust and respect us, we need to demonstrate that profitability can't come at the expense of operating ethically.

This means that we have a responsibility to our customers, our people, our suppliers and our business partners globally to provide them with transparency across our operations and assurances on the way we conduct our business.

Ethics is not something new to us. From day one, a deep sense of family and social responsibility has run at the core of the Group, and the values instilled by Nigel Austin when he founded the business continue to underpin all that we do. We know that as our global operations continue to grow, we need to make responsible decisions at every turn – not only because it's the right thing to do, but because it's the best way to do business.

The Cotton On Group's operations are guided by our Ethical Framework, developed to solidify our focus and make sure our teams are part of our journey to impact positively on people's lives globally – across our customers, our suppliers, our partners, our team members and the community more broadly. The framework sits hand-in-hand with our Ethical Sourcing Program, including our 14 Rules To Trade supplier code of conduct, which guides and governs the ethical supply of our products.

We view our supplier base as an extension of our family and that those who work for our suppliers, work with us. We maintain long-term relationships with selected suppliers to ensure their commitment and understanding of our 14 Rules To Trade.

As part of our people-first approach and drive to get better at what we do, we increasingly invest in resources and infrastructure, working with our suppliers to educate them on the importance of 14 Rules To Trade and focus on improving workers' conditions. In instances where remedial action is required, we work closely with suppliers to ensure corrective action is implemented and improvements are made.

Our current goal is end-to-end mapping of all suppliers and materials used in our products, including raw materials. So as we delve deeper into our supply chain, we've set a goal to achieve 100% public disclosure across all stages of production by the end of 2018. A transparent and sustainable supply chain is an important part of our commitment to responsibly made product, but we also genuinely believe it's the right thing to do.

View the current supplier list here.

 

 

Ethical Sourcing Audit

We strive to be better every day so each year we benchmark our audit process against international standards which cover the areas of Fire and Safety, Management Practices, Worker Rights, Factory Conditions, Waste Management and the Environment.

We implement the required updates as part of our continuous journey of improvement.

Worker interviews also form a major part of our responsible sourcing program ensuring we listen to the workers' needs. In addition, our program also includes third party auditors who carry out independent checks of our supply partners. In FY16, we completed over 700 factory inspections in Cotton On Group suppliers' facilities globally, including over 500 ethical sourcing audits.

To assist our suppliers to understand the Group's expectations for responsible sourcing and also provide practical assistance to corrective actions, the Cotton On Group has a Supplier Technical Guide for our business partners to ensure these requirements are clearly defined. Suppliers and buyers also have a self-check audit available to allow them to conduct self-evaluation to undertake their own assessment.

14 Rules To Trade

Our values underpin everything we do and we only partner with people and organisations that share this thinking.

To help guide and educate our suppliers, we've developed 14 Rules to Trade, to ensure our partners can clearly understand our ethical expectations.

Before partnering with a supplier, we ensure they understand and abide by our 14 Rules To Trade.

The Cotton On Group has zero tolerance of any supplier breaching the following rules:

1. NO CHILD LABOUR

The supplier and their subcontractor shall not employ a worker under the age stipulated by the local/regional legal limit.

2. NO FORCED LABOUR

The supplier, manufacturer and subcontractor supplying goods to Cotton On Group shall not allow any form of forced, involuntary or prison labour.

3. NO DISCRIMINATION OR HARASSMENT

There shall be no discrimination in the hiring of workers, no physical sexual or verbal, harassment or abuse will be permitted in the work place. Under no circumstances will the Cotton On Group tolerate the practice of bribery and corruption in any shape or form in dealings with a supplier or subcontractor or any of their employees, or associated parties.

4. RESPECT FOR FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING

 All employees shall have the right of association, union membership and collective bargaining as well as adequate workers representation. Where the rights to either are restricted under law, the appropriate channels to ensure a reasonable and independent exercise of such rights must be designed.

5. WORKING CONDITIONS ARE SAFE AND HYGIENIC

Suppliers and subcontractors shall provide a safe and healthy workplace environment as per minimum requirements of the local and regional laws. All facilities must be structurally sound, hold a building safety certificate, and meet Cotton On Group compliance standards.

6. MINIMUM WAGES PAID

All suppliers and subcontractors shall ensure that wages paid for a working week must be at least the minimum national industry benchmark standards or collective bargaining agreement, should this latter be higher.

7. FAIR WORKING HOURS

Working hours for all workers shall comply with national / local laws and industry benchmark standards.

8. REGULAR EMPLOYMENT IS PROVIDED

Suppliers and subcontractors must ensure that, to every extent possible, work performed must be on the basis of recognized employment relationships established through national laws and practices.
The supplier and their subcontractor shall not employ a worker under the age stipulated by the local/regional legal limit.

9. RESPECT THE ENVIRONMENT

Suppliers and subcontractors shall be committed at all times to respect the environment and shall comply, at least, with the standards and requirements of the applicable local and international laws and regulations. The supplier, manufacturer and subcontractor supplying goods to Cotton On Group shall not allow any form of forced, involuntary or prison labour.

10. NO BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION

Under no circumstances will the Cotton On Group tolerate the practice of bribery and corruption in any shape or form in dealings with a supplier or subcontractor or any of their employees, or associated parties.

11. TRANSPARENCY IN AND FROM, ALL BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS

Suppliers must disclose all subcontractors used for Cotton On Group production, and both suppliers and Subcontractors must not refuse inspection from any Cotton On Group or third party auditor. All employees shall have the right of association, union membership and collective bargaining as well as adequate workers representation. Where the rights to either are restricted under law, the appropriate channels to ensure a reasonable and independent exercise of such rights must be designed.

12. A VALID BUSINESS LICENCE MUST BE HELD

A permit to manufacture must be held by any Cotton On Group producing factory. Suppliers and subcontractors shall provide a safe and healthy workplace environment as per minimum requirements of the local and regional laws. All facilities must be structurally sound, hold a building safety certificate, and meet Cotton On Group compliance standards.

13. NO USE OF BANNED RAW MATERIALS OR BANNED PRACTICES

No factory is to use sandblasting as part of the production process, or use any banned raw material such as Uzbekistan cotton, Angora fur or Azo dyes in Cotton On Group products. All suppliers and subcontractors shall ensure that wages paid for a working week must be at least the minimum national industry benchmark standards or collective bargaining agreement, should this latter be higher.

14. 14 RULES TO TRADE

All suppliers and sub-contractors agree to implement and integrate, these 'Rules To Trade' and applicable laws into its business.

In January 2014, in addition to our Rules To Trade, we introduced a more robust Cotton On Group Ethical Sourcing Audit. This audit covers in detail the areas of Fire and Safety, Worker Rights and Conditions, Environment, Waste Management and Worker Interviews. We continue to work with suppliers to educate them on the importance of meeting these Audit requirements.

Supplier Conferences

Our suppliers are an extension of our family, and face-to-face communication plays a critical part in the way we do business.

For the last 25 years we've been establishing long-term, meaningful relationships and investing in the future of these partnerships.

Our people strive to be better every day, and we encourage our suppliers to share this value. Each year we hold supplier conferences in our sourcing hubs, with participation from all areas of the Cotton On Group business. These conferences provide the opportunity to engage our suppliers with the Cotton On Group journey, as well as understand more about the Group, our strategy and expectations and how we can collectively work together to achieve our ambitious goals.

The conferences help us to maintain effective two-way communication with our suppliers, while giving them a platform to voice the challenges they face and support they require. It also allows us to recognize and thank high performing suppliers and factories.

Importantly, these events also see each supplier recommitting to the Cotton On Group's 14 Rules To Trade, which they must adhere to in order to do business with us.

Cotton Sourcing

The Cotton On Group is a proud member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a not-for-profit organisation stewarding the global standards for Better Cotton, and bringing together cotton’s complex supply chain, from the farmers to the retailers.

BCI works with a diverse range of stakeholders, from farmers to retailers, to promote measurable and ongoing improvements to social, environmental and economic issues in cotton-farming communities in 21 countries around the world. By 2020, BCI aims to have five million farmers involved in the initiative – producing 8.2 million metric tonnes of sustainable cotton which is 30 per cent of global cotton production.

The Cotton On Group uses thousands of tonnes of cotton each year to bring our customers the products they love, and as one of the first Australian retailers to join the program, we believe there is enormous opportunity for us to make a difference in the world and change people’s lives.

As a business, we are striving to create an ever-better supply chain. It is a long journey but our short-term goal is to have thirty per cent more sustainable cotton, sourced from BCI and Kenya Cotton, by 2019.

Our involvement with BCI is the latest initiative in a comprehensive sustainability program that also includes disclosing the details of our suppliers, which will commence in late-July 2016 with the goal of full disclosure by the end of 2018.

Our commitment to using more sustainable cotton is further strengthened by the success of our existing sustainable cotton initiative – Kenya Cotton. In partnership with Business for Development, we are working closely with Kenyan farmers to help them transition from subsistence farming and improve their livelihood through sustainable cotton production. 

In addition to funding the training and setup of each farm, we’re committed to purchasing 100 per cent of the cotton lint, and since the project began in 2014, farmers involved with the initiative have already doubled their income. We are committed to supporting more than 10,000 Kenyan farmers by 2020.

The initiative, together with being a member of BCI, will give our business increased transparency in our supply chain, providing greater confidence in the environments from which our raw materials are being sourced.

For more information on BCI, please follow the link: http://bettercotton.org.

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Environmental Practices

As part of our supplier agreements, our supply partners are required to comply with the Group's Ethical Sourcing Audit, which includes environmental practices.

This audit provides us with measurements and feedback on how our suppliers are performing and what improvements have been implemented, if required.

We encourage our suppliers to be environmentally conscious and improve their way of operating on an ongoing basis. Where remedial action is required, the Cotton On Group works with its partners to remedy the breach to deadline and to standard.