Doing business ethically has been central to our company since it was established 175 years ago. In line with our values, we have a deeply rooted respect for others, a passion for serving our customers, and a keen appreciation for trust and responsibility. Today, as an international company, maintaining our high ethical standards is an important way we meet our customers’ expectations - and our own.
It is important that our employees, partners, and suppliers share our values. In 2015, we updated - and rolled out to all key suppliers - our global supplier Code of Conduct, providing a uniform set of expectations for suppliers on legal compliance, labour practices, and environmental performance. We support this with a comprehensive set of guidelines. The code itself focuses on compliance, but we understand that we also need to build upon our strong relationships with our suppliers to create ownership. The program includes a strong focus on management systems and supplier ownership to drive our approach beyond auditing.
We also revised our audit programme to assess compliance with the Code and to build supplier capacity. With more than 90 members, our compliance team is able to audit 100% of the production units we work with around 3,500 audits each year—and support them to improve their compliance with our Code and expectations.
Our new global Code of Ethics, also introduced in 2015, creates a single set of requirements for how employees should behave. Our leaders are responsible for creating a working environment that encourages appropriate conduct, and must lead by example in ethical behaviour. We held training sessions in Brazil, Mexico, and China in 2015, and will train employees in Europe during 2016 to familiarize teams with the new Code. An e-learning course on ethics management will also be rolled out during the year.
André Beisert, E-commerce Director, Brazil
I think it’s really important to have a Code of Ethics in C&A, because it reinforces our culture and makes our values tangible. I see the code as a clarifying tool and, for me, when we have clarity, we operate in a more aligned and assertive way.
Andrea Novelli, Distribution Centre Manager
The implementation of the new Code of Ethics, now global, was another important step for C&A to keep the integrity of our brand and company. We, leaders, have a bigger responsibility because, we have to be an example for ethical behavior and we are responsible to maintain the conduct aligned to the values of our company.
Tiago Brito, Store Manager, Brazil
This updated code was timely because it broaches the subject of social media. And it gives us the foundation to address the topic of C&A’s values in an effective way with our teams.
C&A communicates with many different people around the world. We want to create products everyone can enjoy, regardless of age or size, and recognize the need to reflect this in our advertising campaigns and choice of models. Through our advertising, we aim to share our values and positive attitude to life. So when we’re developing new advertising campaigns, we will continue to avoid content that could be seen as discriminatory, defamatory, or hurtful. We apply the same rigour to complying with the laws and guidelines of national advertisers’ associations.
C&A respects the human rights of everyone who contributes to our business. Our Code of Conduct and Code of Ethics are guided by the latest best practice on human rights, including the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. Additionally, we conducted a human rights gap assessment and are determining how our sourcing practices could affect human rights issues in our supply chain, and if needed, how to address any issues. From this foundational work we are now conducting human rights due diligence of our supply chain including our sourcing and buying practices. This ongoing process, will also encompass our products, our employees, and the communities we serve. We will communicate our findings in our 2017 report.
We aim to support fairness and transparency in our way of working, with our employees, and with suppliers. For 10 years, our compliance hotline, which we call the Fairness Channel, has enabled us to deal with any issues that arise about situations in our offices, stores, or supply chain. In 2015, we developed a plan to update the Fairness Channel to accommodate our more rigorous supplier Code of Conduct and employee Code of Ethics. During 2016, the new Fariness Channel will be in place, along with updated training for employees and suppliers.
Our stores clearly display the names of C&A contacts for concerns or questions. We deal with any concerns rapidly, working to find the best solutions for all parties. Overall, we received a very low number of complaints in 2015, and investigated and resolved each case appropriately.
In 2015, the C&A Fairness Channel surfaced one confirmed incidents of corruption. One incident when contracts with business partners were terminated or not renewed due to violations related to corruption. One pending public legal case regarding corruption brought against the organization or its employees during the reporting period.
Data is not available for cases where employees were dismissed or disciplined for corruption.
Global: Supporting Transparency International’s anti-corruption studies in Bangladesh
Preventing corruption in the garment sector is an industry-wide challenge. Aside from our established detection mechanisms, we’re taking this a step further by supporting independent research.
In 2015, we supported and funded Transparency International’s anti-corruption studies in Bangladesh. The resulting report, Undress Corruption: How to Prevent Corruption in the Ready-Made Garment Sector, explores 16 scenarios and offers insights and recommendations for fashion brands.