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Gap opens up human rights review to the public

The clothing chain Gap has made public a review of human rights practices in its supply chain.

The review, which was commissioned by Gap from the US-based non-profit Shift Project, suggests ways in which the business can better comply with the United Nations’ guiding principles on business and human rights.

Shift, which was established in 2011 to help businesses put the UN principles into practice, concludes that Gap has made good strides in a number of areas, including on understanding where its human rights impacts are most felt, on the emphasis it has placed on integrating worker perspectives into its monitoring programmes, and on analysing how its own purchasing practices can lead to human rights pressures in the supply chain.

However, it makes a series of recommendations for improvement, including the need to:
• conduct further reviews of the potential for significant human rights impacts throughout its supply chain, especially in areas where such impacts ‘may be less obvious’
• further develop its ‘materiality assessment’ approach so that it ‘fully reflects the severity of impacts on affected stakeholders’
• make greater use of credible third parties to help establish and operate grievance mechanisms for employees in the supply chain.

The review also says Gap should do more work to seek the views of ‘broader stakeholders’ in a local area when carrying out risk assessments of a supplier. This will help the company to discover concerns about a supplier that otherwise might go unnoticed.

More specifically, it identifies an ‘urgent need’ for Gap to address fire and building safety in Bangladesh in a ‘collaborative manner’ with other businesses. Shift laments the fact that that many North American brands and retailers, including Gap, felt it necessary to form an agreement separate from the recent European-driven ‘Accord’ that aims to improve conditions throughout the Bangladesh apparel industry.

It says it is a matter of ‘regret’ that Gap and others founded the separate Alliance for Bangladesh Workers Safety and warns that Gap, in its work with the Alliance, needs to make sure it avoids ‘duplication, inconsistency or confusion’ with European efforts.

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Posted on September 24, 2013 at 05:20am
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