Supplier Partnerships

Supplier Partnerships

We work collaboratively with many groups to improve our compliance program and apply industry best practices across VF’s supply chain.

We partner with Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) to certify our owned manufacturing and supplement our sourced manufacturing facilities. In order to further ensure responsibility within our supply chain, we work with groups like the Fair Labor Association (FLA), Social Accountability International (SAI), Better Work Nicaragua, Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and Apparel and Footwear International RSL Management (AFIRM). We also collaborate extensively with the Fair Factories Clearing House (FFC) database.

We cannot thoroughly investigate and engage each point along our supply chain by ourselves. Even if it were possible, our commitment to transparency and collaboration precludes us from doing so. We are dedicated to engaging and working with our industry peers, working groups and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to foster and promote a healthier and safer work environment. By working together as an industry, we can expedite improved working conditions throughout the entire supply chain. The following is a snapshot of the groups with whom VF works closely to advance our supply chain programs. Each has had a positive impact on our compliance programs and the apparel industry overall.

  • Fair Factories Clearinghouse – FFC is a nonprofit organization that provides an audit-sharing platform for global brands. Approximately 20 companies share a factory database that includes more than 30,000 factory names and addresses. Each member company maintains the information and data of its group of contractors, while audit details and factory history remain restricted from other members. However, if another member company wishes to engage a factory that is already in the system, that company can contact another member already active with the factory and ask to share audit reports. VF has found that the other member companies are receptive to this so-called Sharing Platform, which can significantly reduce the number of audits and resulting audit contractor fatigue. Another benefit of the FFC database is the ability to store virtually unlimited data, which can be used to track trends and support the reporting of statistical information. VF has been the lead company testing new software for tablets that simplify the post-audit process for our auditors, giving them more time with the factories and less time spent filling out paperwork.
  • Fair Labor Association – VF’s compliance process is complemented by our engagement with the FLA. Many colleges and universities seeking assurance that products bearing their name are produced under fair labor conditions are affiliated with the FLA. Likewise, these schools require that all of their licensees participate in the FLA program. Two of our brands – JanSport® and Majestic® – produce goods with collegiate logos, and VF is a “Category B” member of FLA with respect to these brands.
  • Social Accountability International – VF is a member of SAI, an NGO whose mission is to advance the rights of workers around the world. VF is working with SAI to develop additional human rights policies and programs to guide our operations. Our work with SAI includes a research project to help us assess whether the wages we pay within our company-owned manufacturing facilities are aligned with basic needs. This entails field validation, associate interviews and stakeholder engagement, all of which will enable us to consider different basic needs, such as food, clean water, clothes, shelter, transport, education and discretionary income. SAI’s approach (SA8000) is based on several existing human rights standards, including the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the ILO Conventions.
  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – With the participation of approximately 5,000 factories in more than 70 countries, the WRAP certification initiative has grown to become the world’s largest factory-based certification program for the footwear and apparel industry. This independent, nonprofit organization is dedicated to lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing practices around the world. VF and WRAP have enjoyed a strong partnership since the WRAP’s founding in 2000. VF-owned and operated facilities are required to comply with WRAP’s stringent auditing and certification process. Currently, all of our owned and operated facilities are WRAP-certified.
  • Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety – In July 2013, VF and several other leading retail and apparel companies formed the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. Together, we are committed to a five-year, legally binding, results-oriented initiative dedicated to improving safety conditions for those who make their living in Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector. VF has also committed significant financial resources, investing $17 million to support initiatives focused on the health and safety of Bangladeshi workers.

SPOTLIGHT

CASE STUDY: TIMBERLAND’S® “SUSTAINABLE LIVING ENVIRONMENTS” INITIATIVE

timberlandsImproving workers’ lives is not only the right thing to do, it makes a better workforce and a better business.

When VF purchased The Timberland® brand in 2011, it was well on its way to integrating their Sustainable Living Environment (SLE) program into their supplier base. This program is based on basic beliefs that every person is entitled to food that meets universal nutritional standards; clothing that reflects the person’s innate dignity; housing that allows privacy as well as shelter; affordable and accessible health care; and education that cultivates each person’s gifts and talents to enable positive community contributions.

In 2008, the Timberland® brand began exploring these beliefs more deeply with suppliers to further understand potential areas to better meet workers’ needs and improve their lives. The brand now conducts an SLE Needs Assessment among suppliers, asking questions about workers’ access to nutritious food; clean water; adequate and affordable housing; and education.

Gathering this kind of information is no easy task. Timberland’s® Supplier Sustainability Team starts by talking with the workers themselves to gain a firsthand understanding of their perspectives. The team also analyzes factory infrastructure with management, contacts community organizations and trade unions and consults with nonprofit organizations and peer companies. In some cases, workers need more education and information about available services or infrastructure. Other times, it may be that affordable, adequate options and services are not readily available. In either case, action is needed.

To ensure workers’ needs are met, Timberland® engages in a variety of projects to help promote SLEs. For example, the brand helped set up microfinance institutions in Bangladesh, health clinics in China and Vietnam, food co-ops and education programs in the Dominican Republic, as well as child care centers and clean drinking water in India and Vietnam. For more information on how the Timberland® brand has helped individual communities, please visit Timberland’s® SLE page.

SCALING TIMBERLAND’S® APPROACH TO SUSTAINABLE LIVING ENVIRONMENT

VF is currently evaluating how it can scale Timberland’s® industry-leading work. We believe this is an important program to scale across the entire VF supply chain to ensure that we are advancing sustainable living environments for our associates and those who make our products.

Global Compliance Program

Supplier Training

VF’s Auditing Policy

Human Rights in Our Supply Chain