One of the biggest issues ethical manufacturing faces in the fashion industry is there is no singular, universal certification or trademark that signifies an ethical product. The one certification that has come the closest to this is the World Fair Trade Organization, so let’s take a deeper look at what they audit and what that means for you and your fair trade fashion.
What is Fair Trade Anyways?
According to the WFTO, "Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.
Fair Trade organisations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade."
Audit This: World Fair Trade Organization
1 | Creating Opportunities for Economically Disadvantaged Producers
You’re working exclusively with marginalized producers with a plan to move them out of poverty and low income.
2 | Transparency and Accountability
You’re transparent in your operations and maintain open communication channels to all levels of the supply chain. You respect the sensitivity and confidentiality of information supplied and involve employees in all levels of the decision-making processes.
3 | Fair Trading Practices
You trade with concern for the marginalised producers and do not profit at their expense, always paying on time and providing a down payment when necessary. You consult with suppliers before canceling or rejecting orders, and when orders are cancelled through no fault of producers you provide compensation for work already done. Furthermore, you maintain long term relationships, seeking to increase the volume of the trade between you and the producers. You work cooperatively with other Fair Trade Organisations and avoids unfair competition, not duplicating designs without permission and protects the cultural identity and skills of small producers as reflected in their craft designs and other related services.
4 | Payment of a Fair Price
You agree to a fair price with the producers, taking into account market sustainability and equal pay for equal work by women and men.
5 | Ensuring no Child Labor and Forced Labor
You adhere to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and national / local law on the employment of children, ensuring no forced labour in your workforce and supply chain.
6 | Commitment to Non Discrimination, Gender Equity and Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Freedom of Association
You do not discriminate in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, union membership, political affiliation, HIV/Aids status or age. You take into account the special health and safety needs of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Furthermore, you respect the right of all employees to form and join trade unions of their choice and to bargain collectively.
7 | Ensuring Good Working Conditions
You provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees and/or members, and working hours and conditions comply with conditions established by national and local laws and ILO conventions. Fair Trade Organisations are aware of the health and safety conditions in the producer groups they buy from, and seek to raise awareness of health and safety issues and improve health and safety practices in producer groups.
8 | Providing Capacity Building
You develop the skills and capabilities of your producers to increase positive developmental impacts through Fair Trade. When working with small producers, you develop specific activities to help these producers improve their management skills, production capabilities and access to markets - local / regional / international / Fair Trade and mainstream as appropriate.
9 | Promoting Fair Trade
You raise awareness of the aim of Fair Trade and of the need for greater justice in world trade through Fair Trade, providing your customers with honest information about your process, products, and producers.
10 | Respect for the Environment
You maximise the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources, buying locally when possible, and using production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimise greenhouse gas emissions. Overall, seeking to minimise the impact of your waste stream on the environment.
It’s Time to Swipe Right for Ethical Manufacturing
As a brand, ethical manufacturing means you have the potential to significantly cut your labor costs in a way that is still providing a wonderful living wage to people in the developing world, who by the way are super skilled at making your product.
THR3EFOLD brokers relationships between fashion brands and ethical factories in the developing world closing the gap in the ethical supply chain. Together, we can make a living wage in our industry’s supply chain the norm, and pull some people out of poverty in the process. To change the world, reach out and let’s chat about your manufacturing needs.