Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: 2015 Addendum

For decades the Government of Uzbekistan has been forcing its citizens to work in the cotton harvest each year – cotton that eventually ends up in global supply chains for consumer goods. In early 2014, RSN published Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: A Survey of Corporate Activities to End Forced Labor, which surveyed 49 home goods and apparel companies and reported on what they were or were not doing to ensure Uzbek cotton picked with forced labor was not in their manufactured products. With new actions taken and additional information provided, the Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: 2015 Addendum offers another look at the companies that previously scored the lowest, including improved scores, trends, and best practices.

Companies showing large improvements in their scores include Sears, which increased its original score more than ten-fold; Kering’s score increased seven times; and Hanesbrand’s score increased 5.5 times. However, some companies retained scores that lag behind the industry, including All Saints and Urban Outfitters with scores of zero.


Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: A Survey of Corporate Practices to End Forced Labor

Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: A Survey of Corporate Practices to End Forced Labor includes survey results and ratings of 49 companies reflecting actions they are taking to stop cotton from Uzbekistan picked with forced labor from entering their supply chains. The report provides an overview of industry challenges and best practices to give direction for a path forward.

The Government of Uzbekistan is notorious for forcing up to a million of its citizens to work in the cotton harvest each year. Much of this cotton makes its way into global supply chains and can be found in products we use every day. Faith-based, sustainable, and responsible investors have long asked the apparel and home goods industries to investigate working conditions beyond their manufacturing facilities, especially at the cotton harvesting level.

The survey offered a maximum of 100 points across 11 indicators in the categories of Policy, Public Disclosure, Engagement, and Implementation & Auditing. Only five companies scored over 50 points, 19 companies scored under 25 points, and two companies scored zero.

Although the bulk of companies surveyed trended toward lower scores, Cotton Sourcing Snapshot features several recommendations to help companies take action on the issue of forced labor in Uzbek cotton. Companies are encouraged to implement an industry-wide spinner certification program, integrate supplier compliance into their IT systems, and increase disclosure of internal practices and challenges.


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