Will releasing your supplier list make you more socially responsible? H&M thinks so.
Fast-fashion mecca H&M has made public almost all of the company's global suppliers. While the company boasts the move as a step towards transparency, it also seems to be a marketing initiative aimed to build the company's brand.
Anyone can now access their 95 percent complete supplier list, which was released last week as part of H&M's 11th annual sustainability report--part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda. The H&M supplier list is divided based on country of production and includes suppliers' names, their factories, and even the factories' locations.
By releasing their supplier list, H&M's website says they have encouraged their suppliers to take "ownership over their sustainability" and the company also says it wants to promote transparency within the fashion industry. (H&M did not return calls for comment on this article.)
While a list of factory names and locations doesn't actually tell the consumer much, having a CSR campaign can help build a brand, loyalty, and likability, says Jaime Katz, equity analyst with Morningstar.
"It caters to younger, socially aware audience," says Katz. "It's an interesting way to bridge the gap and get them interested."
Nelson Switzer, director and leader of sustainability business solutions at PwC, agrees it's a good marketing move, but adds that disclosing the names of your suppliers can dull your competitive edge.
According to Haley Wrinkle, senior researcher from nonprofit advocacy group Not For Sale Campaign (NFS), Nike was the first company to disclose its supplier list in 2005 and has been joined by others such as Adidas, Levi's, Patagonia and Timberland.
H&M's sustainability report, along with the public supplier list, were published just three weeks after suppliers to H&M and Walmart reportedly paid $145,000 worth of compensation to former Cambodian factory workers, who organized after they claimed their pay was deducted without explanation. In its official statements, H&M expressed their support in the efforts of the workers, saying that the case was "treated with high priority at H&M."
JANA KASPERKEVIC is a graduate of Baruch College, City University of New York, where she earned a bachelors degree in Journalism and Political Science. She covers start-ups, small businesses, and entrepreneurship for Inc. Her work has appeared in The Village Voice, InvestmentNews, Business Insider, and Houston Chronicle, among others. She lives in Brooklyn. @kasperka