With recent events in Bangladesh and ongoing scrutiny around warehouse and employee health and safety issues, we want to encourage our industry organization to consider the development and adoption of a voluntary Code of Conduct.
In many areas of our industry, SMART and its membership have shaped a leading path to encourage our current and prospective members to adhere to ethics and practices that make our industry stronger and our businesses more vibrant, competitive and profitable. We have lobbied government, set standards and encouraged wide‐ranging adoptions of leading industry practices across a number of areas such as most recently with our Bin Collection Guidelines.
Working in a global industry and with many member businesses working directly in developing countries that have varying health and safety standard monitoring, we need to encourage our members to adopt minimum standards for working conditions to protect the people who work for us and to protect and strengthen the reputation of our industry.
A Voluntary Code of Conduct could cover a variety of issues including:
- Commitments to ensuring localminimumwages are paid and labour practices are adhered to such as maximum hours worked, deductions etc.; and
- Safe building conditions, meeting local standards for fire and safety within the workplace. This is not a new concept. Many primary manufacturers in the textile industry have adopted similar codes which protect workers and provide transparency to an increasingly aware and concerned consumer.
Bank & Vogue has been working in India for many years. Every quarter, we conduct a social and safety audit of our warehouse and staff. In addition, as retailers, our customers want us to be accountable for the products that we are stocking and selling to them. This is more than a liability and risk management issue. It is about our commitment to providing safe and meaningful work to our local employees and being transparent to our customers and sellers.
We would like to encourage the Board and indeed the general membership to consider how we can encourage our members ‐ and those who wish to become members ‐ to adopt similar guidelines. Our organization has made a commitment to the SMART leadership team to provide active support and effort to research, develop and support such guidelines.
Together, we have an opportunity to provide leadership on this issue. With deeper understanding of the issues and an expectation that are members stand for important issues such as this, we can expect that a stronger industry association can emerge and grow.
By Scott Nowlan, VP Bank & Vogue