Just over a week ahead of the five-year anniversary of the devastating Rana Plaza factory collapse, Better Buying and the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) have announced an 18-month partnership in Bangladesh to support and promote responsible buying practices within garment industry supply chains.
The two NGOs will invite Bangladeshi garment factories to anonymously evaluate their buyers using the Better Buying online rating platform, which gives buyers anonymized ratings from suppliers on seven key aspects of purchasing practices:
- planning and forecasting
- design and development
- cost and cost negotiation
- sourcing and order placement
- payment and terms
- management of the purchasing process, and
- CSR harmonization.
TI’s apparel and textiles lead, Martin Buttle, pointed out that 2017 joint ETI and International Labour Organisation (ILO) research shows that purchasing practices can negatively impact wages and working conditions in global supply chains. He added that ETI believes Better Buying scores and analysis will therefore serve as an independent method of determining strengths and weaknesses within brands’ procurement cycles.
“We are seeing increasing debate about the impact of buying practices on the ability of suppliers to maintain good labour standards,” he said. “International retailers and brands can therefore only gain from this initiative, in terms of underpinning sustainable business for all, building their reputation and improving conditions for workers.”
Already on board: Bonmarché
UK clothing company and ETI member **Bonmarché **started engaging with Better Buying in the fourth quarter of 2017 by providing the platform with a list of strategic suppliers, along with a letter inviting its suppliers to evaluate the company’s performance. The results from all suppliers that rated were then aggregated; the anonymized findings were analyzed by the Better Buying team and provided to Bonmarché earlier this month.
Ian Leader, Head of Quality Assurance & Sourcing at Bonmarché, said: “We welcome the Better Buying initiative, promoted by the ETI, and it has already proven a really useful tool for Bonmarché as part of our continual focus on improving purchasing practices.”
Better Buying and ETI expect the information and analysis that will result from the supplier ratings to help companies understand which purchasing practices are working well and which may benefit from focused efforts to improve.
Better Buying co-founders Marsha Dickson and Doug Cahn said: "By using Better Buying, brands will be able to identify how their buyers, product developers and others responsible for bringing product to market can improve their day-to-day business activities, thus helping their suppliers uphold better labour standards.”
The Rana Plaza tragedy shined a light on the unsafe, unhealthy working conditions endured by millions of garment workers in East Asian countries, most of whom are women, and sparked a global movement to hold clothing companies accountable for the wellbeing of their workforce by raising standards, increasing transparency through everything from campaigns, documentaries, research projects, transparency rankings and digital mapping initiatives; and giving names and faces to those who make our clothes.