Topics: Sustainability, Minimum wage, Fashion Pages: 8 (2507 words) Published: February 27, 2014
H&M is one of the largest fashion companies in the world that designs and sells men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing, as well as homeware and accessories. It began as a Swedish women’s wear store in 1947 and has evolved into five brands, encompassing about 2,800 stores in 48 countries on four continents, and employing over 94,000 people worldwide1. H&M strives to produce increasingly sustainable fashion while making it accessible and affordable to individuals all around the globe by pursuing growth into new markets such as Malaysia and Latvia in 2012 and Serbia and Lithuania in 20132. H&M’s sustainability program, “H&M Conscious,” integrates corporate social responsibility with their corporate values and makes sustainability a core tenet of their quality concept. H&M is intent on confronting existing challenges in the fashion industry, including wage and labor conditions at supplier factories, climate change, and the availability of natural resources because their consumers are showing increased interests in sustainability. This simultaneously strengthens H&M’s offerings to consumers, while engaging the morality appeal, enhances its reputation, and fosters license-to-operate, as well as instills a triple bottom line of economical, social, and environmental sustainability2. In 2010, H&M developed seven strategic long-term commitments and associated “Conscious Actions” targeted to help H&M progress toward fulfilling their overall sustainability vision. These commitments, each with their own performance targets, include the following: “providing fashion for conscious customers; choosing and rewarding responsible partners; being ethical; being climate smart; reducing, reusing, and recycling; using natural resources responsibly; and strengthening communities”2. Understanding the interdependence of “people, planet, and profit” as being crucial components to long-term success, H&M has interwoven these commitments into their business strategy and each stage of their product life cycles3. Throughout the year, progress on completing Conscious Actions are monitored and reviewed and improvements on methods and actions are added. Social Sustainability

According to Porter and Kramer, corporate social responsibility can be a “source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage” for a business; however, corporate success and social welfare need not be a “zero-sum game”4. As H&M has demonstrated, businesses with considerable resources and insights, especially those with H&M’s scale and growing global reach, have immense opportunities to make a difference and to greatly impact society in a positive manner. They also have much to gain in terms of acquiring long-term competitiveness. Successful businesses rely on healthy societies because essentials such as education, health, safe working conditions, and equal opportunities contribute to more productive workforces. A highlight of H&M’s 2011 achievements includes working with stakeholders to develop a social development plan in Bangladesh, an important sourcing market. H&M desires to make a positive impact on the country’s development thru the textile industry, not simply by contributing jobs to the economy, but also by helping to provide the essentials of a productive workforce described above. For instance, low wages for factory workers in the garment industry are a prevalent problem in the industry. However, because H&M doesn’t own the factories that produce their products and instead buys their garments from suppliers, they neither set nor pay factory wages5. The Bangladeshi government is the only body with authority to decide statutory minimum wages. Hence, late last year, H&M CEO visited Bangladesh to meet with the Prime Minister to urge the government to consider increasing the local minimum wage and to conduct annual wage reviews while taking into account the consumer price index and national inflation rate. H&M feels a responsibility for those...

“H&M in Bangladesh.” H&M: Nov 16, 2012
2013. Retrieved from http://about.hm.com/content/hm/NewsroomSection/en_us/NewsRoom/NewsroomDetails/Collaboration-with-UNICEF.html
“H&M First Fashion Company to Launch Global Clothes Collecting Initiative.” H&M: Dec 6, 2012
“H&M Joins The Fair Wage Network – Initiative to Promote Better Wage Practices in Global
Supply Chains.” Webwire: Sept 2, 2011
“Visit to Cambodia.” H&M: October 4, 2012. Web. Accessed 27 January 2013. Retrieved from
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