Our approach to HRDD

Our mission at Fair Wear is to achieve a world where workers’ rights are realised through freedom of association and social dialogue. We want to see the global garment supply chain as sources of safe, dignified and decent paid employment.  

To achieve this mission, we have been advocating for shared supply chain responsibility since our inception twenty-five years ago. As a true multi-stakeholder initiative, we firmly believe that the right to dignified work can only be realised with the active participation of all involved in the supply chain — brands, manufacturers, workers, their representatives (business associations and trade unions), as well as government. Effective mechanisms for social dialogue between worker representatives and factory management, as well as responsible sourcing dialogue between manufacturers and brands, are fundamental for “shared responsibility” to be realised. All business relationships should be equitable and long-term, based on shared value and shared responsibility.   

Since then, several normative principles and regulatory frameworks, including the UNGPs, have bolstered our convictions that this is indeed the way forward for responsible business. 

New opportunities 

HRDD is a framework for protecting workers and communities from harm and holding businesses to account. Within HRDD, brands are responsible for identifying and acting upon human rights risks and harms in their supply chains. In other words, garment brands must now actively take responsibility to respect human rights and remedy human rights harms in their supply chains. This implies a collaboration with manufacturers as opposed to offloading responsibility to them. HRDD, therefore, has the potential to redress the industry’s power imbalances by helping to bring about more equitable sourcing dialogue between brands and their suppliers, which in turn provides new opportunities to strengthen the position of workers.  

In welcoming this transition, we’re taking steps to ensure that real systemic change finally takes place. Knowing that even the most ambitious norms will be meaningless if they’re not properly upheld, we’re playing a significant role in the industry’s uptake of HRDD. In doing so, we have defined several key elements for HRDD implementation to be impactful:  

  • Meaningful stakeholder engagement: workers, factory management, and other affected stakeholders must be part of all six steps of the OECD Due Diligence Cycle, from risk identification to effective remedy. They are also crucial in validating the impact that actions have.  
  • Responsible purchasing practices: most human rights violations are caused by irresponsible purchasing practices and can be resolved by improving them.  
  • Effective access to remedy: workers should get effective redress directly from their employers, and when needed, brands must step in and ensure appropriate action is taken.  
  • Gender-responsiveness: each step of HRDD should have a gender lens applied to it, enabling brands to actively support gender equity.  

Fair Wear’s role  

For the past two and a half decades, we have connected and convened brands, factories, workers, trade unions, NGOs and other industry influencers, and built strong multistakeholder networks across the whole value chain. Being able to utilise each of their unique leverage, we are rightly positioned to demonstrate how impactful HRDD implementation can positively change the lives of the people who make our clothes.  We want to turn the current HRDD momentum into a real opportunity for industry-wide, systemic change where workers see their human rights realised. Our vision is that brands take responsibility for their actions within the supply chain, and that stakeholders are empowered to hold them to account.