Project best practices to the world
Social and environmental compliance expert speaks on how to rebuild image of garment sector; compliant factories to be awarded tomorrow
The garment sector should project its best practices to the world to rebuild its image as a compliant apparel maker, an expert said.
“We have the best practices in our factories in terms of social and environmental compliances. We should brand the country with good examples and we have hundreds of them,” said Sarwat Ahmad, senior adviser of the Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry, a GIZ project.
For instance, she cited the case of Yasin Knittex Industries, an export-oriented knitwear manufacturer which provides breast cancer treatment for its workers.
“This is a very good example that will strengthen the Bangladesh image globally,” she told The Daily Star in an interview.
Another export-oriented knitwear manufacturer, Aboni Knitwear, distributes sanitary napkins to its female workers, who form the majority at the factory -- and in the sector. Of the 4.4 million garment workers, 80 percent are women, most of whom are migrants from rural areas.
Garment exports will triple by 2020 -- provided all factories become compliant in terms of social and environmental standards, she said, citing a forecast by McKinsey and Company.
In order to motivate all factories to adopt best practices and ultimately tap the export potential, the Promotion of Social and Environmental Standards in the Industry in collaboration with Bangladesh Brand Awards introduced the Social and Environmental Excellence Awards for the garment sector last year.
This year's winners will be announced on Tuesday at Dhaka Apparel Summit that kicked off yesterday.
The award will be given in four categories: social compliance, environmental performance, building and fire safety excellence, and inclusive skills development. The four categories have nine sub-categories. Inclusive skills development, a newly introduced category, will encourage factory owners to offer jobs to people with disabilities, Ahmad said.
This year, the award will emphasise worker safety concerns and their active participation in work and crisis management, rumour handling, productivity development and innovation, she said.
The sponsors of the award are: Institute for Sustainable Communities, a US-based organisation that works to reduce climate pollution; Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, a US-based institution that woks for apparel and footwear factories; and North American retailers' group Alliance.
The jury board comprises Shaheen Anam, executive director of Manusher Jonno Foundation; Farah Kabir, country director of ActionAid Bangladesh and representatives from the government, BGMEA and BKMEA.
The award will address the challenges with an approach of encouragement, Ahmad said.
It will also portray the connections between sustainable business practices and business results and create enthusiasm for faster adoption of best practices, she said.
“I hope that the award will encourage even more promising factories to follow and take up on these best practices showcased through our award,” Ahmad said.
“It would be ideal if more factories start employing a more inclusive workforce and persons with disabilities as part of their mainstream workforce.”