A couple of years ago David Jones, Australia’s second largest department store, set an ambitious five-year ‘Ethical Sourcing Strategy’ plan to “support continuous improvement in relation to the conditions and wellbeing of people working along our supply chain, business ethics, environmental sustainability and animal welfare.”
While the high-end retailer is known for stocking premium luxury brands such as Prada, Dior and Chloe and ethical fashion labels such as Manning Cartell, Rachel Gilbert, KITX by Kit Willow and Bassike, it still scored an ‘F’ rating in the 2013 Baptist World Aid Fashion Report for its hazy supplier agreements and untraceable supply chain. This coincided with the business coming under fire for partnering with Spanish fast fashion giant Mango (who was revealed to have sourced garments from the unscrupulous factory involved in the Rana Plaza building collapse).
However in a relatively short period of time (four years to be exact) David Jones has since repaired its reputation and is soaring to new ethical heights.
It went from an ‘F’ to a ‘C’ rating in 2015, and just this year, the high-end retailer achieved a B+ in the annual report. The way it’s going, it’s expected to achieve an A rating within the next two years.
Related Post: The 2017 Ethical Fashion Report: Who Made the Cut?
So how did David Jones manage to improve not only their reputation, but their ethical fashion ratings as well?
The company invested in a number of key initiatives to increase transparency, diligence and traceability over its supply chain – and it worked.
Here are five courses of corrective action the retail company took to improve its reputation and ethical credentials (take note companies wishing to up their ‘ethical’ game!)
1. David Jones required all private label suppliers to provide third party factory audits.
The business got rid of wishy-washy contracts and got serious about supply chain transparency to prevent a repeat of the Rana Plaza embarrassment. It renewed its Supplier Code of Conduct in 2016. In it, David Jones required all private labels to undergo rigorous independent audits through the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (SEDEX). The audits offer better visibility to important issues such as worker treatment, fair working conditions and collective bargaining and health and safety. In implementing this initiative, the company has increased supply chain visibility and can quickly address issues raised in factory audits.
2. David Jones increased traceability of raw materials.
David Jones now uses raw materials that can be traced back to its origins. For example, the company switched to using cotton that has been accredited by Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) which affirms that the cotton has been grown in a more environmentally sustainable way and can be traced all the way back to the farm. BCI-accredited cotton also delivers better financial outcomes for growers.
In addition, David Jones signed the Cotton Pledge, committing its buyers and private label suppliers to not knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan, where child and forced labour is permitted to be used by the cotton industry.
3. David Jones implemented an ‘Ethical Sourcing Awareness Training’ program.
The 2-3 hour internal training program educates the company’s buyers on its policies and procedures and aims to improve awareness of ethical sourcing issues so that buyers are mindful of how their decisions impact on the company and its customers.
4. David Jones added an ‘Animal Welfare Policy’ to its Supplier Code of Conduct.
David Jones developed an Animal Welfare Policy outlining its strict requirements in relation to animal welfare protection. The Australian retailer does not condone the use of animal fur and suppliers are not permitted to supply products to David Jones that have fur in it. Furthermore, David Jones neither sources or stocks foie gras.
5. David Jones engages industry players to promote environmental sustainability.
David Jones plans to become Australia’s first zero-carbon and zero-waste department store. To achieve this goal, the company holds meetings every six months with environmental organisations and industry players such as WWF and the Green Building Council of Australia to review its supply chain processes and continuously improve its sustainability practices to reduce its carbon emissions.
“We still have a lot to do in our ethical sourcing journey but our progress to date has been strong and consistent. Over a relatively short period of time, we have established a robust program in response to community concerns about ethical sourcing and we now have a solid platform to continue progressing our work.” – Jaana Quaintance-James, David Jones’ Ethical Sourcing Manager.
Now over to you: How do you feel about David Jones’ transformation? Are you hopeful that other big retailers will follow suit or are you skeptical? Feel free to leave a comment below.