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BLIHR | Case Studies

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DRAFT FOR APPROVAL

Gap Inc.’s 2003 Social Responsibility Report was widely praised for its honest appraisal of the challenges facing a company trying to uphold international human rights and labor rights standards across global supply chains. Greater transparency has led to newspaper headlines such as “Gap admits factory abuses,” but this has been more than offset by positive responses from employees, customers, investors, and NGOs. Gap’s 2004 report continues transparent reporting against the ILO Core Conventions. In its 2004 report, the company quotes US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis to capture its philosophy about reporting: “a bright light is the best disinfectant”. The more open and honest a company can be about conditions and challenges, the more helpful it can be in addressing them. Gap’s report also contains constructive criticism and learning from the Public Reporting Working Group and stakeholder outreach sessions. Gap also presents its work with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to develop consistent reporting standards that will make it possible to compare performance across companies and over time.

MEASURING IMPACT AND AUDITING

The Human Rights Compliance Assessment Tool - The Danish Institute for Human Rights has devel­oped an interactive database for use by business in any specific national market. The web-based tool contains approximately 350 questions for business and more than 1,000 corresponding human rights indicators, developed from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and over 80 other major human rights treaties and International Labour Organization (ILO) conven­tions. Over 70 businesses were involved in the development of the tool, and the database is now being refined into some sector-specific versions.

Building relationships with local NGOs As part of its long-standing partnership with Carrefour, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) set up a system of independent monitoring of the company’s Charter, which is based on human rights. By engaging with an established NGO in this way, Carrefour was able to ensure the credibility of the monitoring system. In 2005, the auditing mechanism was updated. The joint association « Infans » mandate has evolved; the priority for now is the reinforcement of a legal framework concerning corporate responsibility. “Infans” is also working to train workers and management in Bangladesh, on international labour and human rights standards.

Reinforcing the supply chain - Every approved supplier to The Body Shop must sign an agreement committing to meeting The Body Shop Ethical Trade standards, which are based on the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code. All primary suppliers to The Body Shop are assessed against this Code and The Body Shop work with suppliers to correct non-compliances.  By going through this audit process, suppliers become more viable as partners for other retailers and in some cases have stimulated suppliers to implement their own ethical trade programmes, in turn improving the compliance of second and third tier suppliers. A buyer from The Body Shop or a representative from a local non-governmental organization will audit a medium-risk supplier. Low-risk suppliers will undergo an ethical assessment and is expected to adopt the Body Shop Code of Conduct.

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