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Ethics & Compliance

Enterprise Ethics & Compliance

Special Feature - Apparel Supply Chain Disasters

On April 24, 2013, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, more than 1100 people were killed when Rana Plaza, an 8-story building housing a number of garment factories collapsed. In addition to those men and women who lost their lives, it is estimated that double that number were injured.

In the previous November another garment factory in Bangladesh burned down resulting in more than 100 deaths. Despite these disasters, Bangladesh has become the preferred supply source for a global group of clothing manufacturers and retailers competing in a garment category known colloquially as “fast fashion.”

Companies such as Swedish retailer H&M, Spain's Inditex, and Tesco from the UK have created an agreement, sometimes called the PVH-Tchibo agreement, designed to improve safety conditions in the factories they use with legally binding conditions. Very few US retailers have agreed to sign that agreement, including Wal-Mart, The Gap, J.C. Penney and Sears Holdings preferring to work among themselves and with their trade associations.

Recently, The Institute for Enterprise Ethics invited two experts in this field to discuss these questions with a specific focus on the Bangladesh disaster. Professor Dan Baack is an Associate Professor in the Department of Marketing at the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and is an expert in brand management and international marketing. Dennis Reaves is a consultant and former senior executive in retail merchandising and supply chain management with a special expertise in the apparel industry.

Apparel Supply Chain Disasters

If you would appear to view this video in a question-by-question format, it is available in segments by clicking here.

The Aftermath of the Disaster: Rescue Efforts, the Survivors, the Causes

Survivor of the Building Collapse in Bangladesh

The story has received significant national and international coverage in the media. The links below provide additional insight and details about the disaster, those involved and other relevant perspectives.

Bangladesh Collapse: The Garment Workers Who Survived - NPR

Western Firms Feel Pressure as Toll Rises in Bangladesh - The New York Times

Why Retailers Don't Know Who Sews Their Clothing - The Wall Street Journal

Ethical Fashion: Is The Tragedy In Bangladesh A Final Straw? - NPR

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion - Elizabeth L. Cline

Wal-Mart and Other U.S. Retailers Commit to Factory Safety in Bangladesh

Wal-Mart joins other U.S. retailers

With the issue of a "socially responsible supply chain" being brought into greater focus by disasters such as the one in Bangladesh, larger U.S. retailers in conjunction with the Bipartisan Policy Center, a nonprofit group based in Washington, announced a far-reaching plan aimed at ensuring factory safety in countries in which they manufacture. The links below offer greater insight and detail into the recently-announced plan.

U.S. Retailers Announce New Factory Safety Plan - The New York Times

Wal-Mart and Other U.S. Retailers Commit to Factory Safety in Bangladesh - The Wall Street Journal

Major U.S. retailers work jointly to improve factory safety in Bangladesh - The Washington Post
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