Bangladesh Accord Illustrates Power of Multi-Stakeholder Collaboration to Address Supply Chain Issues

Apr 24th 2017

In statement, global investor coalition acknowledges progress made by over 100 brands in concert with trade unions and NGOs to transform worker safety in garment sector through the Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

NEW YORK, NY – MONDAY APRIL 24TH, 2017 – A coalition of global investors representing over U.S. $4.3 trillion is using the April 24th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy to issue a statement highlighting the success of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety which they believe symbolizes what can be accomplished when brands use their collective leverage to resolve supply chain concerns.

In the aftermath of the collapse of Rana Plaza there was an unprecedented response on behalf of global apparel brands that recognized their responsibility to participate in the upgrading of factories in their supply chains to address worker safety. The resulting Accord on Fire and Building Safety (Accord) signed by trade unions, brands and retailers created a five year, legally binding framework for factory inspections to identify and remediate fire, electrical and structural issues.  

With one year left in its mandate, the investors believe more needs to be accomplished, but significant progress has been made, proving the effectiveness of the Accord model and fundamentally changing how apparel brands and retailers view their relationship to, and responsibility for, workers in their extended supply chains.

 “The Bangladesh garment sector is safer now than 4 years ago through the unprecedented collaboration of more than 100 major brands and retailers,” commented Pat Zerega, Senior Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Mercy Investment Services. “We applaud the progress that has been made and urge the companies and all stakeholders to continue building a sustainable garment sector that protects the lives of workers and respects their dignity.”

“As investors, we have engaged companies, the Accord and the Alliance for Worker Safety over the past four years with one overarching goal:  the systemic transformation of the garment sector to eliminate risk to workers and to companies,” said Lauren Compere, Managing Director, Boston Common Asset Management. “While progress has been made, there is still more to be done.  We urge the Accord to extend their five-year agreement beyond 2018 so that serious structural issues can be remediated and companies have time to implement due diligence to assess their suppliers’ capacity and ensure that proper financing is available to expedite the remediation.”

While the success of the Accord highlights the impact of collective brand action, it also exposes weaknesses in both the will and capacity of government to support workers. The last 4 months have seen a troubling government crackdown on dozens of garment workers and labor leaders who are facing criminal cases in Bangladesh after wage strikes in December 2016. About 20 global brands sourcing from Bangladesh, including C&A, Gap, H&M, Inditex, Next, and Primark, wrote to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina supporting a wage review and expressing their concerns that union leaders and worker advocates were being targeted. Investors commend these companies for acting collectively and urge the Alliance for Worker Safety, the Accord and individual companies to use their influence with the government to support worker rights and safe workplaces.

Further, investors are deeply concerned about developments in Bangladesh’s leather sector where serious labor rights and environmental abuses are negatively impacting thousands of people.  The leather sector is at a particularly urgent inflection point.  Following a series of Supreme Court orders to stem the longstanding and large-scale environmental degradation, the Bangladesh Department of Environment shut down the country’s primary leather tanning hub in Dhaka’s Hazaribagh district on April 8, 2017. An estimated 30,000 leather workers, including child laborers, now find themselves in limbo as the industry seeks to shift production to a new industrial zone outside the city in Savar. 

“There is a pressing need for all stakeholders-including companies and governments-to support alternate opportunities for child tannery workers, to ensure promised job protections, housing, and healthcare facilities for adult workers at the new leather industry hub, to improve health and safety conditions in the new factories  and to accelerate the completion of the Savar central effluent treatment plant to prevent further harm to the environment,” stated David Schilling Senior Program Director for Human Rights at ICCR.  “This is precisely the type of crisis that would benefit from a collaborative initiative based on the Accord model.  We are heartened to see what can be done when corporations take collective action to correct supply chain problems. The lives and livelihoods of workers, their families and communities are at stake.”


About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 46th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $200 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability on questions such as climate change, corporate water stewardship, sustainable food production, human trafficking and slavery in global supply chains and increased access to financial and health care services for communities in need.

Susana McDermott, Director of Communications, ICCR
[email protected]

Total number of investor signatories: 137; Total AUM: over $4.3 trillion USD

Adrian Dominican Sisters, Portfolio Advisory Board
Alberta Investment Management Corporation
Allianz Global Investors
Natural Investments LLC
NEI Investments
Nest Sammelstiftung
North American Province of the Congregation of
AMP Capital Responsible Investment Leaders Fund
APG | Asset Management US Inc.
Aquinas Associates
Ausbil Investment Management Limited
AXA Investment Managers
Azzad Asset Management
Bankhaus Schelhammer & Schattera
Boston Common Asset Management
Brethren Foundation Funds
BVM Shareholder Education & Advocacy Group
Caisse de Prévoyance des Interprètes de Conférence, Switzerland
Candriam Investors Group
CAP Prévoyance, Switzerland
Christian Super
Church of the Brethren Benefit Trust
CIEPP - Caisse Inter-Entreprises de Prévoyance Professionnelle
Compensation Employees’ Union (CEU)
Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes
Congregation of St. Joseph
COPE Union Pension Plan
Cordes Foundation
Corporate Responsible Investing Advisory Group,
St. Norbert Abbey
Dana Investment Advisors
Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise
Dignity Health
Domini Impact Investments LLC
Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids
Dominican Sisters of Sparkill
Our Lady of the Cenacle
North East Scotland Pension Fund
NorthStar Asset Management, Inc.
Northwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA)
Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Province Canada
OIP Trust
Orchard House Foundation
Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters, Inc.
Pax World Funds
Pension Plan of The United Church of Canada
Pensionskasse Caritas, Switzerland
Pensionskasse Stadt Winterthur, Switzerland
Pensionskasse Unia
Prévoyance Santé Valais (PRESV)
Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province
Prosperita Stiftung für die berufliche Vorsorge
Public Service Alliance of Canada Staff Pension Plan
Region VI Coalition for Responsible Investment
Responsible Sourcing Network
RRSE (Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises)
School Sisters of Notre Dame - Central Pacific Province CR Committee
School Sisters of St. Francis
Seventh Generation Interfaith CRI
Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE)
Sinsinawa Shareholder Action Committee
Dominican Sisters of Springfield, IL
Echo Foundation
Etablissement de Retraite additionnelle de la Fonction publique (ERAFP)
Ethos Foundation, Switzerland
Evangelical Lutheran Foundation of Eastern Canada
Everence and the Praxis Mutual Funds
Faultline Foundation
Felician Sisters of North America Leadership Team
Fonds de Réserve pour les Retraites – FRR
Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund (AP4)
Franciscan Sisters of Allegany NY
Friends Fiduciary Corporation
Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration
GES International
Glasswater Foundation
Hampshire College
Heat and Frost Union Local 118 Pension Plan
IBVM Foundation, Loretto Sisters
JLens Network
Leadership Team of Sisters of Providence - Mother Joseph Province
Local Government Super
Manaaki Foundation
Marianist Province of the U.S.
Marianists International NGO
Mennonite Education Agency
Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati
Sisters of Charity of New York
Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, New Jersey
Sisters of Charity, Halifax
Sisters of Instruction of the Child Jesus
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA
Sisters of St. Dominic of Blauvelt, New York
Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston
Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield
Sisters of the Holy Cross
Sisters of the Humility of Mary
Sisters of the Most Precious Blood
Sisters of the Precious Blood
Sisters of the Presentation of the BVM
Social Justice Committee, UU Congregation at Shelter Rock
Socially Responsible Investment Coalition
Solaris Investment Management
Sonen Capital
Steelworkers Pension Plan
Stiftung Abendrot
Strathclyde Pension Fund
Sustainable Value Investors
Swift Foundation
The Columbia Foundation
The Paulist Center, Boston, MA
The United Church of Canada
Towboat Seamen Retirement Plan
Trillium Asset Management
Trinity Health
Triodos Investment Management
Mennonite Education Agency Investment Fund LLC
Mercy Health
Mercy Investment Services
Midwest Coalition for Responsible Investment
Miller/Howard Investments
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate
MN, Netherlands
Natixis Asset Management
Trusteam Finance
US Province Missionary Oblates
Vancity Investment Management Ltd.
Walden Asset Management
Xaverian Brothers
Youville Provident Fund
Zevin Asset Management