On 10 November 2017 the FWF’s 2017 Annual Conference, From niche to norm, took place.
Two hundred participants got inspired by keynote speakers Laura Hunter, Katharine Hamnett, and Hans Docter, who encouraged brands and stakeholders to tell their story, be transparent and send out a positive message about their sustainability work
Talk show: Zooming out
FWF was joined by other leading industry experts for this talk show, where we explored potential ways to speed up the much-needed industry change. Together, we zoomed out of single supply chains and took a wider view without losing sight of the core issue: workers’ needs. We explored how the need for brands and other industry actors to have a space to try out new models can at times conflict with workers’ rights.
Guests: Karen Brouwer (Coordinator/ Advisor Campaigns Mondiaal FNV), Ben Vanpeperstraete (Lobby and Advocacy Coordinator, Clean Clothes Campaign), Jef Wintermans (Coordinator Convenant Duurzame Kleding en Textiel, SER), Hendrik Lindholm (Sustainability Manager, Sandqvist), Margreet Vrieling (Associate Director, FWF)
Host: Michiel Hulshof (Director, Tertium)
Inspiration sessions: Enlarge your sphere of influence
The question that we are all trying to answer this year was “How do we get the rest of the industry to change too”.
The inspiration sessions showed participants how five different FWF member brands, including the three shortlisted entries for the Best Practice Award, have assumed their responsibility and enlarged their sphere of influence. We hope that these examples encouraged you to think of ways to increase your own influence, that can be made concrete for your own supply chain.
As Head of Copy at change agency Futerra, Laura helps fashion brands take sustainability to a higher level. She shared her expertise in an inspiring presentation on how members and stakeholders can enlarge their sphere of influence through communication.
An English fashion designer best known for her political t-shirts and her ethical business philosophy, she shared her experience in her push for sustainability in fashion.
At the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he is Director for Sustainable Economic Development, he facilitates engagement for policy change towards a more sustainable garment sector.
Workshops: Collaborative action
In the afternoon session we designed workshop for small groups. These different workshops were:
A: FWF’s collaborative PR project
Let’s join forces and work together to show by example. Let’s challenge consumers and other actors in the industry to do more. And let’s put the work that FWF members carry out towards improving labour conditions in the spotlight.
This hands-on workshop, was facilitated by experts to work on concrete ideas for joint PR activities such as a pop-up store or a joint event, or create communication material and a joint campaign.
- Joint pop-up store: Marieke Vinck (Charlie + Mary) and Annouk Post (FWF)
- Design communication material: Ruben Steeman (Buro RuSt)
- Organise a FWF member joint event: Natasja van den Berg (Tertium)
- Develop messaging for FWF member joint campaign: Laura Hunter and Hilary Tam (Futerra)
B: Mapping Supply chains
What does an actual supply chain look like? In this workshop we looked at the context in which FWF members operate and discuss their sphere of influence. By visualising real supply chains, we looked at their complexity. Members had the opportunity to think of the actors and actions needed to comprehensively monitor their own supply chain.
Facilitators: Klaus Hohenegger (Sourcing Solutions GmbH) and Annabel Meurs (FWF)
C: Membership Matters—Influencing Business Associations
Responsibility for improving working conditions lies with the brands, who need to take respect for human rights and access to remedy in their supply chains seriously. But it also lies with other actors along the supply chain. And for sustainable change to take place it is important to involve key decision makers, for example business associations. In this workshop, we explored the most pressing issues brands feel business associations need to address, and how brands can play a role in influencing them to action.
Facilitators: Nienke Steen (MODINT) and Tina Rogers (FWF)
D: Learning from others—creating momentum in the cocoa sector for joint action and big impact
How can FWF members, together, create the momentum for sector change? Let’s look at a sector where the main actors have successfully joined forces to strengthen each other in their sustainability efforts: Cocoa. In this workshop participants looked at how the cocoa sector did it, and discussed how a similar strategy can be used in the garment industry.
Facilitators: Gael Lescornac (World Cocoa Foundation) and Sharon Hesp (FWF)
E: IMPACT beyond the score of FWF’s Brand Performance Check
Let’s trace FWF’s impact pathway: from how we measure results, to evaluating our collective impact. During the session, we looked at the data and results of 5 years of Brand Performance Checks, and exchange ideas on how the tool can prove, and improve, our impact.
Facilitators: Anouk Rutten and Kati Oudendijk (Avance)
F: Partnering up—FWF in cooperation with ILO Better Work
In June 2017, FWF and ILO Better Work became partners to improve working conditions in garment factories. But what does this mean for FWF members? In this workshop, FWF member brands got to know Better Work staff, FWF production country representatives and other stakeholders. We jointly developed a road map with concrete steps to implement this cooperation agreement to benefit workers at factories where FWF members have production.
Facilitators: Ivo Spauwen (ILO Better Work) and Vera Köppen (FWF)
G: Social Dialogue: the real workers’ workshop
How can brands become more effective supporters of Social Dialogue in their factories? In this workshop we focused on the real workers, how to involve them and build on their experience to establish a fruitful social dialogue in the supply chain. Social dialogue was discussed from a trade union perspective, using real examples and best practises. Then, there was space to exchange views and experiences, to better understand each other’s approach, to identify challenges and work together on finding solutions that work for brands, manufacturers and the workers themselves.
Facilitators: René Kouwenhoven and Jessica van Ruitenburg (FNV)
Best Practice Award Show
The 2017 FWF Annual Conference would not be complete without the Best Practice Award Show. After careful review of all the applications, our jury selected the following top three entries:
Jack Wolfskin – Welfare fund to support workers of a bankrupt factory
Schijvens – Living Wage in our factory in Turkey
hessnatur – From a complex complaint to exemplary internal communication practice
Schijvens is the proud winner of this year’s FWF Best Practice Award. The Dutch workwear brand managed to establish a living wage at their supplier in Turkey. Schijvens faced the challenge of wages being paid under the table, without proper registration systems. They learned some valuable lessons during the process, including figuring out the needs of local workers and the importance of raising all salaries (not just the lowest ones) to maintain wage differences that reflect workers’ skills and experience.
This year’s runner-up entries included:
VAUDE – Environmental and Social Compliance Management for our material supplier
Stanley and Stella – Worker Empowerment through Strengthening Internal Grievances Handling
Mammut – Repeated Excessive Overtime Complaints
Mammut – Coordinated Response to SOMO report on Myanmar