The Brand Performance Check, conducted at all Fair Wear member companies, is the most important element of Fair Wear’s unique shared responsibility approach to improving working conditions in garment, textile, and footwear supply chains.
Tracking our brands’ progress
Fair Wear believes that improving conditions for factory workers requires change at multiple levels. Traditional efforts to improve conditions focus primarily on the factory. However, the management decisions and practices of brands have an enormous influence on factory conditions. In other words, factory conditions cannot be separated from brands’ business practices.
Fair Wear’s Brand Performance Check has evolved into a tool to evaluate and publicly report on the Human Rights Due Diligence efforts of Fair Wear’s member companies. The new Brand Performance Check Guide 2022 takes a more tailor-made approach. It helps brands prioritise and focus on specific topics depending on risks and required remediation in a brand’s supply chain. This approach has the benefit of rewarding specific, innovative supply chain behaviour and results.
‘Instead of solving problems that are discovered from an audit, we’re now looking even more at: what are the risks per factory and how can a brand properly respond to this together with the factory? The great thing is that with this approach, brands operate in line with international guidelines such as those of the OECD. And the direction towards mandatory human rights regulation on EU-level.’ – Niki Janssen, Brand Performance Check Coordinator, Fair Wear
During a performance check, Fair Wear investigates how far member companies have integrated human rights due diligence into their core business practices and assesses how the practices of member companies support the Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices (CoLP).
Each Brand Performance Check report is published online for transparency and accountability. Through these reports, Fair Wear member brands demonstrate the changes that are possible and thus lead the way for the wider industry. The results also enable us to track brand progress over time and measure how well brands have assessed, identified and resolved issues with their suppliers in the past year. The checks enable us to provide one-on-one, tailored recommendations to brands on where they can improve.
Based on their Brand Performance Check, member brands are placed into a category that best corresponds with their performance. Categories are calculated based on a combination of benchmarking score and the percentage of own production under monitoring. The specific requirements for each category are outlined in the Brand Performance Check Guide. The categories are as follows:
- Leader: This category is for member companies who score exceptionally well and operate on an advanced level. Leaders have made substantial progress in embedding and implementing human rights due diligence, especially strong risk assessments and remediation strategies. Leaders demonstrate responsible purchasing practices and demonstrate best practices in complex areas such as living wages and freedom of association. They also continuously review their internal processes and supply chain, regularly making improvements and adjustments.
- Good: Member companies who are making a serious effort to implement the Code of Labour Practices (CoLP) are ‘doing good,’ and their efforts deserve to be recognised as such. They have set up strong systems and policies and are well underway in implementing responsible purchasing practices. Member companies within the Good category are progressing towards meeting all Fair Wear membership requirements and engage in remediation efforts. Most member companies receive a Good rating.
- Needs Improvement: Member companies are most likely to find themselves in this category when problems arise that prevent them from implementing steps required to fulfil Fair Wear membership requirements or if they have not been able to demonstrate sufficient evidence of improvement during the annual performance check. Member companies can only be placed in this category for one year, after which they need to earn a Good rating or face demotion to Suspended.
The existence of these last two categories is essential to protect Fair Wear’s legitimacy and to prevent ‘greenwashing’ or ‘free-riding’ by a small number of member companies who underperform. The categories provide a clear improve-or-exit path.
Brand Performance Checks recognise that the management and purchasing decisions of clothing brands have an enormous influence on factory conditions and that this should be addressed if we want to change the way our clothes are made.
‘What we see is that brands’ internal processes highly influence labour conditions on the factory floor. This is one of the key things we evaluate during the Performance Check. Because at the end of the day, it’s really difficult to fix a problem if you aren’t aware that you’re the one causing it’ – Anne van Lakerveld, Living Wage Coordinator and Brand Liaison, Fair Wear
Want to see what a Brand Performance Check looks like? Visit the brand pages to see the latest Brand Performance Check of each brand.