So far, we’ve welcomed eight new company members to ETI this year. Francesca de Meillac, our Senior Business Advisor reflects on why and explains that they cover sectors including cleaning services, fashion and food.
At ETI we're noticing that more and more companies view ethical trade as essential business practice for a number of reasons.
- Moral: a core belief that all companies have a responsibility to respect human rights and where poor conditions prevail, to use their leverage to improve labour standards for workers.
- To comply with growing expectations: companies are increasingly under scrutiny from NGOs, the media, investors and customers who want to know about working conditions for people in their supply chains. The UK Modern Slavery Act and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights have also raised the profile of ethical trade.
- Commercial: where working conditions are good, it is noticeable that strikes, accidents and staff turnover are reduced. Costly disruption gives way to a more stable, skilled and motivated workforce that’s better equipped to improve quality and productivity. Retailers that work with their suppliers on ethical issues see improvements in their relationships and in the quality of their products.
Joining ETI is an explicit demonstration of a company’s commitment to ensuring that the products and services they sell have not been made at the hands of exploited workers.
It’s a recognition that global supply chains are highly complex and worker’s rights issues are often deep rooted and best tackled through collaborative action. And it's a pledge to work with the companies, trade unions and voluntary sector organisations that are already ETI members.
From Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, our newest members all have board level buy-in for membership, a strong desire to improve their company’s approach and dedicated resources for doing so.
Our new corporate members
Here are our new corporate members in alphabetical order:
- International foodservice company Bidfresh supplies fresh produce, fish, meat and dairy products to chefs throughout the UK and Ireland. One of Bidfresh’s subsidiaries, Seafood Holdings, has been a member of ETI since 2014. Bidfresh has extended the scope of their ETI membership to increase their impact across other food supply chains.
- UK lifestyle retailer Oliver Bonas designs and sells homeware and fashion. It was also the UK’s first major high street retailer to be an accredited Living Wage employer and Be Kind is one of the company’s core values. Oliver Bonas is growing rapidly and is working with ETI to ensure they can embed their commitment to ethical trade across the business during this period of growth.
- Privately owned UK E-tailer Missguided is also rapidly growing and is just starting a retail roll-out. Specialising in very fast fashion aimed at teens and twenty-somethings, it sources mainly from the UK and China. It is looking to increase its knowledge of ethical trade and incorporate that learning into the business; it wants to learn from other members in implementing change.
- International food and drink group, Princes Limited is a significant supplier to the retail and foodservice sector. Several of Princes’ customers are ETI members who strongly endorse the application. With focused internal support and an Ethical Steering Group reporting to the board, Princes has already been collaborating with ETI around sourcing Italian tomatoes and Thai seafood.
- Reiss, founded by David Reiss in 1971, is an international fashion brand offering affordable luxury for both men and women. The company currently operates from over 190 locations in 17 countries and also has a highly developed e-commerce presence. Sourcing in territories such as Asia, Europe and Latin America, Reiss initiated the process to become members of the ETI to expand its ethical sourcing programme and join like-minded brands in implementing international positive practices.
- German firm Ricosta is both a manufacturer and brand of children’s shoes and sources from within the EU. It wants to show leadership, to enhance its approach to ethical trade, act as a role model for other footwear companies and demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement to their staff, suppliers and other stakeholders.
- UK company WGC Group provides cleaning services to hotels and apartments. Unlike many in the cleaning industry, their 5,000 employees are all on permanent contracts. With a strong commitment from their CEO and Board to being an ethical employer, WGC has joined ETI to seek guidance on advancing ethical trade in their business, and to demonstrate leadership in the sector.
- Dutch apparel and household goods retailer Zeeman has over 1,250 department stores across mainland Europe. Family-run, it sources from Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey. As they wrote in their latest social responsibility report, they believe it is important to explain clearly to consumers how companies can offer “good buys”, how they treat the world around them and how they treat workers in their supply chains.
Find out more about joining ETI here.