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social impact 

An estimated 60 million workers power the global garment industry, generating its billions in profit. The majority work inhumane hours and multiple jobs to make ends meet. Roughly 80% of these workers are women. 


Since the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 when more than 1000 people died in an accident in Bangladesh, because of the very poor working conditions, the world has started paying more attention to fashion workers’ rights. Terrifying stories in supply chains, however, have not ended there, and you can read an overview in our article on the Dark Side of Fashion


Many of the processes in the making of garments can be dangerous to people’s health because of big machinery and chemicals, which is why it is very important to protect them.


In the current set-up of the fashion industry, brands have extremely big supply chains, which makes it nearly impossible to know exactly what is going on in every factory. Systems of audits and certifications have been set up to ensure that factory employees receive a fair wage and work in a safe and healthy environment.


Another major issue beyond health and safety is around wages. The difference between a living wage and a minimum wage is that the former allows a worker’s family to have enough to pay for varied and nutritious food, afford water, housing that meets certain standards, education including that to achieve a better position, health care, transportation, clothing and some discretionary earnings, including savings for unexpected events, such as the death of a family member (..or a pandemic). 


There is a lot more than just receiving a living wage. Unions allow workers to ask for what they need, this could be insurance, support for their children’s education, better facilities in the factories, social security, and transport. There are companies that don’t allow their employees to start a union and ask for rights, which shows that they do not value the well-being of their employees.


The concept of Diversity and Inclusion is also very important, and it looks at including in the workforce those who are discriminated against. Companies that hire thousands of people should ensure that they welcome women, people with disabilities, people from ethnic minorities and LGBTQ+.


Sustainability goes further than just within the factory. A company that hires a large proportion of a community should support it through CSR projects that can also benefit the company itself in the longer term.

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