Kimberlee Petillo Trend Review February 6, 2014 Topic: Corporate Social Responsibility in the Fashion Industry Publication: CSRWire Publication Date: December 02, 2014 Article Title: Global Apparel Companies in India: Can They Be Socially Responsible? Link: http://www.csrwire.com/blog/posts/1126-global-apparel-companies-in-india-can-they-besocially-responsible Summary: This report from Namrata Rana (2013) focuses on corporate social responsibility (CSR) within the fashion industry, with particular speculation on the efforts of companies who house factories in India and are a part of the “fast-fashion” culture. Fast-fashion is the term used to reference designs being quickly transferred from the runway to large retailers in order to market and sell the latest trends immediately and affordably. Examples of such retailers include H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, and Topshop. In this article, Rana (2013) discusses a few large international retailers in terms of their role in product sourcing from India and their efforts in CSR. According to Rana (2013), Nike “has 400+ stores in India and sources through 23 factories in India with 26,168 workers.” In an effort to display efforts in CSR, Nike has partnered with international charity organizations Magic Bus and The Girl Effect. Magic Bus dedicates itself to improving the lives of children living in poverty stricken areas by providing education and life-coaching. The Girl Effect aims to empower women from countries in which they are shunned for their gender, ultimately encouraging them to promote change and education for women. Another retailer, Mango, “has 21 stores in India and 5.42% of its purchases are sourced from here. Mango financed the construction of 45 homes in Anantapur, India, one of the poorest regions in the country” (Rana, 2013). Other retailers like Tommy Hilfiger and Levi’s focus their
CSR efforts on safety and health regulations within factories, as well as education and support for HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. The article claimed that some of the fashion industryâ€™s biggest problems regarding CSR, particularly in India, are not only factory working conditions but also the increase in disposable income and negative body image. PR Critique: I personally feel that all mid-sized and mass retailers should be required to develop strategic plans to improve their efforts in CSR. Many retailers say they source from socially responsible factories in Southeast Asian countries, however they lack strategic planning and thus the impact of their CSR is minimal. There are many major questions that must be raised in formulating a plan to improve socially responsible efforts. What kind of budgeting and financing must be done in order for a company to support efforts in CSR? Will more extensive CSR actions raise the price of garments? For example, will product price points reflect the money spent in improving the health, safety, and infrastructure regulations of garment factories? Is it necessary for a retailer to market its social responsibility as a part of the brand image? If so, what impact would this have on sales? Another important question regarding PR strategies for companies which already practice CSR is: what can be done to prevent and react to disasters such as that of Rana Plaza in India? This disaster, as mentioned in the article, involved the collapse of an eight-story building which housed apartments, a bank, retail stores, and several garment factories for companies including The Childrenâ€™s Place, Mango, Benetton, and Walmart. Even after the bank and shops in the plaza were closed due to failing infrastructure, the factory workers were forced to continue working under these dangerous conditions. The collapse resulted in over 1100 deaths and 2500 injuries. In situations like these, it is absolutely imperative for the retailers involved to react by
providing aid to those affected and improving future CSR efforts. Because the laws in these countries regarding factory health and safety are not very strict, it is the responsibility of the retailer to improve working conditions in the countries from which they source production.