ETI member, Primark, has produced free curriculum-based teaching resources for UK secondary schools that can be accessed via their Our Ethics online webpages.
ETI’s focus is very much on interacting directly with businesses, activists and trade unions to help create a culture that respects workers’ rights.
But, we are aware that raising consumer awareness of ethical issues is crucial. And that’s as important for company members as it is for NGOs and trade unions.
It’s why we were very interested when Primark told us that they have partnered with education experts EdComs to create free teaching resources for secondary school teachers.
The resources explore Primark’s business in the areas of the environment, ethics and the clothing journey to help provide a relevant case study for 11 to 16-year-olds.
Recently, ETI held an Ethical Insights debate on the power of ethical consumerism. It was very popular as were the follow-up blogs and video, which are here:
- Ethical consumerism: does it really have power in global supply chains? What makes an ‘ethical consumer’ ethical? Do you have to buy 'ethical products' to be an 'ethical consumer?
- [VIDEO] Do you think consumers care about ethical purchasing? Consumers are known to say one thing but do another and this has been particularly the case on ethical issues.
- Explaining the Attitude-Behaviour Gap: why consumers say one thing but do anotherWhat are the factors that moderate a consumer’s ability or will to enact their intentions?
Companies and education
Educational activity is not something that is often associated with a company. Yet, why not?
With topics including globalisation, economic change and sustainability now a regular feature in subjects such as geography, business studies and citizenship, there is increasing interest in real-life examples from international supply chains.
Primark is a destination store for teenagers and one that is often used in classrooms by secondary school teachers as a well‐known case study.
The retailer told us that they can and do receive requests for information from students and teachers.
That's because they’re keen to know more about how Primark does business. Also, they often want to know how Primark is able to offer products at low prices while maintaining good standards in its supply chain.
The wider ethical practices story
At ETI we know that the price at which an item of clothing is sold does not have to equate to poor ethical practice.
What’s important, as our Executive Director Peter McAllister has written in a previous blog is: “Adopting responsible purchasing practices that will allow companies to optimise costs, increase productivity and quality and reduce operational and financial risk.”
Just one example. Increasingly, large brands are consolidating their supply chains and building trusted relationships with key suppliers.
It’s now often the case that a budget brand’s clothing will be made in the same factory as a more top end retailer. And workers will be earning and be treated exactly the same on the two different production lines.
A human rights-based approach
ETI is the first to say that there always remains more to do, as Primark and all our members will agree. But we also know that people in business, as well as trade unionists and campaigners, care about business and human rights as our tripartite membership shows.
Leading companies are finding ways to embrace the transparency agenda and are looking to improve their ethical trade practices.
Helping to increase awareness must therefore be a good thing. Not only for consumers but also to reinforce a company’s own ethical and sustainability commitments.
That’s not just about addressing reputational risks. It’s also about understanding and acting on the added benefits of efficiencies and cost savings that can be made across the board when implementing an effective human rights policy.
As we emphasise to our members, the aim must be to make business work for everyone; from shareholders, to consumers, through to workers in global supply chains.
And that’s not just in the top tiers of the supply chain. For example, Primark has also been involved in some very interesting work with women cotton farmers.
Now, back to Primark’s new teaching resources.
Primark has developed its materials using feedback from teachers. It’s providing relevant, real life case studies for use across a range of subjects including Business Studies, Geography, Citizenship, Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education and Religious Education courses.
Each topic – on the environment, ethics and the clothing journey – includes an introductory film, flexible activity ideas and discussion points for teachers to use alongside other sources.
To watch the films and download activities, teachers can register and login using their school email address and postcode for verification.