Clothing brands all over the world are outsourcing production to some of the poorest countries in the world where wages are extremely low and working conditions criticisable, to say the least. In the attempt to keep expenses to a minimum, workers are often the ones paying the price.
What is the banks’ role in this and what responsibilities do they have towards the workers, but also towards investors?
Our stance is clear. We try to go on as many field trips as possible in order to experience working conditions at first hand, and we make sure to keep a constant pressure for improvements on the owners of the production facilities. With more than 10 million customers in Scandinavia we have the opportunity to make ourselves heard and make an impact.
When fatal accidents happen, such as the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh where more than 1,100 people were killed, the media pay attention. But it is important that we keep focusing on decent working conditions all over the world. Small things such as access to tap water can make a huge difference to the thousands of workers in poor countries such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.
We have a responsibility as investors and we want to play an active part in order to set a completely new agenda.
The growing clothing industry
South Asia's clothing and textiles industry can create millions of jobs for working-age women, boosting economic growth and helping improve children's health and education, a World Bank report has declared.
The clothing and textile industry employs about 4.7 million people, and it is the most female-intensive in much of the region, women making up 71 percent of its workforce in Sri Lanka, 35 percent in India and 34 percent in Bangladesh.