All previously assessed companies estimated to have an annual revenue in excess of AUD $50 million (in line with the NSW Modern Slavery Act threshold) have been automatically included in the 2021 Report, as were New Zealand-based companies with an estimated annual revenue in excess of NZ $30 million. Companies below these thresholds were given the option to participate. This selection process ensures the largest companies with the greatest consumer reach and subsequent impact on workers are included, while smaller companies that have prioritised ethical sourcing are also able to participate and have their efforts benchmarked.
Each company’s numeric scores were graded as outlined below.
|Grade||Score||Number of companies|
|A||50 – 74.99%||16|
|B||33.60 – 49.99%||30|
|C||20.00 – 35.99%||35|
|D||5.00 – 19.00%||14|
This scale used the mean company score (33.6 in 2021) as the threshold between a B and C grade. Companies scoring B or above are performing at or above the average industry standard, while those scoring C and below are performing below the industry average. The same grading scale was applied to individual sections. This is the first time the grading scale for the Ethical Fashion Report has been published and is included this year in the interests of increasing transparency of the project’s methodology.
Companies are assessed on 46 questions that cover 18 indicators of supply chain practice. All companies included in the Ethical Fashion Report have been assessed on information published on company or brand websites, company reports (e.g., Annual Reports, Corporate Social Responsibility Reports), and any relevant statutory statements (e.g., Modern Slavery Statements) that directly cover the research period. All companies were also given the opportunity to provide evidence directly to the research team. Where companies have been assessed on public information only, this is identified in the Report and Brand Finder with an asterisk (*) next to their grade.
Many companies have a wide array of brands or, in some cases, separate corporate entities that are held by their company structure. Some companies (like the major department stores) will have a variety of arrangements with the brands stocked by their stores – including private label, exclusive brands, and non-exclusive brands. In such circumstances, our grading process only considers those brands that are owned or exclusively distributed by these department stores. This can mean that, in the case of some department stores, our grading will only apply to a small portion of what they retail.
Where companies have separate corporate entities or brands that use differing labour rights systems, then we grade them separately (wherever this has been indicated to us).
Each survey question has a set of stringent validation criteria which must be met to obtain credit. Whilst these evidentiary requirements vary from question to question, wherever possible we request third party documentary evidence, such as audits. With our Ethical Fashion Team assessing over 100 companies throughout the survey process, they are able to clearly identify areas of weakness in evidence documents provided and request further validation to meet requirements. For companies whose surveys have been completed using ‘Public Information Only’, the same evidence requirements and substance assessments apply.
It is important to note that the Research Team do not conduct site inspections of factories as part of their grading. Therefore, company grades are not an assessment of actual conditions in factories and farms, but rather an analysis of the strength of a company’s labour rights and environmental management systems. This research relies on data that is publicly available, alongside evidence of systems and practices provided by companies themselves. Wherever possible, The Research Team and company representatives work through the survey questions, allowing both parties to be satisfied that the data presented is an accurate representation of the company’s policies and processes.
You can download or order the Ethical Fashion Guide here and take it with you when you go shopping to help you make more conscious ethical purchasing decisions.
We also encourage you to write to the companies we assess and directly inform them that you are a customer who would like to see them strengthen their ethical sourcing practices. Use our Advocacy Tool to ask the brands you shop from to commit to more ethical practices. Encourage the report’s best performers and thank them for their efforts. YOU have the power to pass on opportunity and dignity to workers, and sustainability to our planet.
After making your own best effort to buy ethically, you can grow your impact by investing in work that is driving change through supply chains. Baptist World Aid works at strategic points – from community development projects in major garment producing countries, to advocacy with fashion companies, and consumer education tools (like this one!) – to drive change. Donate to be part of our work and contribute to change!
The grades are a reflection of where companies sit in relation to their industry peers. With the industry average sitting as the dividing line between a B and C grade, B is an indication that a company is sitting just above average, but still has a long way to go. A indicates that that a company is covering more than half of our survey criteria. C means a company is sitting close to, but below the industry average, whereas D and F are just starting their journey and are trailing far behind their industry peers. For the first time this year we are publishing the underlying mean score for the industry. At 33.6 out of 100, this average may startle some readers. It is broadly consistent with the trends from recent years – and in fact follows slow but continuous improvement over the eight years since we started publishing this report. It is nevertheless a reminder that there is still a long way to go.
Short answer: they’re not!
Some companies may prefer to disclose their supply chain management practices publicly, instead of responding to our research (e.g., they might be surveyed by multiple research projects, or they might prefer a single public disclosure, rather than disclosing through the survey). Others choose not to engage at all.
The evidence from these companies is assessed in the same way as all other companies (see ‘How are company grades determined?’ above), which means where less information is publicly available this will impact their score. We believe it’s important to provide consumers with sufficient coverage of the Australian fashion market to assist them in making informed choices. As such, companies with a revenue of $50 million or above will be automatically included. In the history of our research, non-responsive companies have received a wide range of grades based on their publicly available information.
Our company selection process ensures the largest companies with the greatest consumer reach and subsequent impact on workers are included in our research. From 2020, smaller companies that have prioritised ethical sourcing are also invited to opt-in to participate and have their efforts recognised.
Baptist World Aid acknowledge that the Ethical Fashion Report and Guide have played a significant role in highlighting the ethical practices of brands in the Australian market. This has sparked interest from many small brands that believe they have ethical systems and desire to have their brand highlighted by the Report. While we believe that it is important to include smaller ethical brands that demonstrate best practice in labour rights management, often through alternative business models, the impact of including large brands can’t be underestimated. Our key objective is making the biggest impact in ending exploitation for garment workers, and this can only be done through changing the practices of the biggest fashion brands. By creating a shift in the fashion industry that sees both small and large brands move towards better human rights practices, the lives of millions of garment workers around the world can be impacted for good.
The Ethical Fashion Report highlights the impact on climate change that garment manufacturing can have. But every industry has a responsibility and a role to play to minimise climate impact. Therefore, this year, we have chosen to print only 5,000 copies of the Ethical Fashion Guide. Churches, church groups and those who have difficulty accessing the online resources will be prioritised to receive a physical copy of the guide. We encourage others to please use the Brand Finder or download a digital copy. We ask for your understanding and assistance as we strive to reduce our own impact on the environment and move increasingly towards digital publications.
Search the latest Ethical Fashion Guide today! Be part of the change. Find your favourite brands, shop with your conscience, be vocal.