10th April, 2019

Group graded by Australia’s Baptist World Aid in 2019 Ethical Fashion Report

Australia’s Baptist World Aid 2019 Ethical Fashion Report: Cotton On Brands recognised as top performing large Australian retailer.
Australia’s Baptist World Aid 2019 Ethical Fashion Report: Cotton On Brands recognised as top performing large Australian retailer.
Australia’s Baptist World Aid 2019 Ethical Fashion Report: Cotton On Brands recognised as top performing large Australian retailer.
Cotton On Brands recognised as top performing large Australian retailer.: Cotton On Brands recognised as top performing large Australian retailer.

Today Australia’s Baptist World Aid 2019 Ethical Fashion Report was released which highlights the essential information customers look for when it comes to how their top retail brands produce their products.

The sixth and largest ethical fashion report to date, the 2019 report grades 130 Australian-owned apparel companies from A to F on the current systems and strategies in place to ethically manage their supply chains.

The Cotton On Group (the Group) is pleased to see their ethical and sustainable efforts recognised with an A – grade in this year’s report.

Grading as a top-performing large Australian retailer is a testament to the commitment and efforts of our people and partners across our global supply chain to make a positive impact.

The Group’s General Manager of Risk and Sustainability, Alice Polglase said while the acknowledgment is welcomed and the business is proud of what’s been achieved to date, there is always room to evolve our programs,

“We have made a commitment to living wages and have joined with Action Collaboration Transformation to partner with on this journey. In 2018, we embarked on an Australian retail industry first partnership with CARE Australia to deliver a bespoke program to develop the life and leadership skills of factory workers, in particular women, in key supplier garment factories in Bangladesh. We also commenced a program to eliminate plastic shopping bags from our 1,450 stores globally, diverting millions of plastic bags from the environment annually.

We remain committed to finding a better way through every aspect of our operations to create a positive impact on the people in our supply chain, the communities we operate in and our planet. “

The Group has long been committed to creating a positive impact through its operations. Since 2009, we have made public our 14 Rules to Trade and our commitment to transparency has seen the Group publicly disclosure our supplier list beyond a tier 1 level to include all raw material stages. We are on track to deliver our commitment to use 100% sustainable cotton by 2021. Our most recent project is the elimination of plastic shopping bags across our global stores, replacing these with paper bags.

This year Australia’s Baptist World Aid adjusted the methodology behind how they have graded companies since 2013 with the addition of a fifth key area. Normally graded based on company policies, transparency and traceability, auditing and supplier relationships and worker empowerment, this year the addition of environmental management was added as criteria selection.

The Group welcomes the environmental aspects of the revised methodology as this is an area we are focused on making improvements in, in addition to our investment in social issues around transparency, living wages and women’s empowerment.

Baptist World Aid Australia CEO, John Hickey said of this addition to the criteria, “the new criterion evaluates a company’s ability to report and address a range of aspects in environmental management including emissions, materials, water use, wastewater and chemical use.”

A report which aims to motivate companies to become more aware of ethical issues across their supply chain and work to improve their sustainable footprint in producing their clothing, BWA were pleased to see this year’s report progress within the space of traceability, gender equality, responsible purchasing and minimising child and forced labour.

Of this progression Hickey said “Baptist World Aid are excited to see Australia finally begin to meet the ethical standards that are demonstrated globally. Year on year, we are proud to see more Australian companies taking a proactive step in being accountable to consumers and workers by participating in our report and we hope the (Modern Slavery) Act motivates more companies to follow suit.”

The Group welcomes the availability of assessments by external organisation like BWA to help our customers make informed ethical fashion choices, and for the Group to constantly review and evolve its approach to conducting business. While we’re proud of what we have achieved to date, we know that there is always room to continue to evolve our programs. We are taking customers on this journey with us through the launch of The Good, a dedicated section of our eCommerce site that shares with customers the programs we have in place to operate ethically and sustainably.

To view the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report, click here.

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