Social Responsibility - Näherei
The rapid globa­li­sa­tion in the fashion business and the challenges posed by produ­cing ever more textiles on an ever tighter time schedule at ever cheaper prices… these develo­p­ments trans­late into catastro­phic condi­tions in supplier countries.

The workers that produce our textiles and leather goods suffer many injus­tices at their place of work.  Social standards have come under public scrutiny.  Indepen­dent auditors report exces­sive working hours, below-subsis­tence wages, discri­mi­na­tion, forced labor and other preca­rious or onerous work conditions.

Actually it’s all been regulated

The “Decla­ra­tion of basic princi­ples and rights of work”, the basic work standard formu­lated by the Inter­na­tional Labour Organi­sa­tion (ILO) exists since 1998. This UN special agency is charged with regula­ting workman’s and labor rights in the textile and leather goods industry. It is important to note that the ILO does not address indivi­dual commer­cial enter­prises.  Rather, it speaks directly to govern­ments.  The 140 count­ries which have ratified all or parts of this labor  standard have obligated themselves to imple­men­ting them in their respec­tive count­ries.  Often, however, especi­ally in count­ries marked by economic diffi­cul­ties and corrup­tion, govern­ments tend not enforce imple­men­ta­tion. A globa­lized world accepts viola­tions of basic labor and human rights as the price for economic power and compe­ti­tive advantage.

It would be incor­rect to place the entire respon­si­bi­lity for these often terrible situa­tions only on the shoulders of stake­hol­ders in industry and politics.  Commerce, media and the public can contri­bute their share to an impro­ve­ment of this situa­tion.  The past has proven that pointing fingers is not effective. - Baumwollzwischenlager in Kirgisistan


When we discuss social accoun­ta­bi­lity, when we verify social standards or insist on compli­ance, we are talking about 3 distinct areas of activity. The founda­tion is a respect for basic human rights. Children should not have to work the same way that adults work. No one should be discri­mi­nated against, mistreated or forced to work, to say nothing about situa­tions borde­ring on slavery. The second area to be addressed is workplace security. Does the company provide fire protec­tion, are the escape routes freely acces­sible, are workers provided protec­tive clothing, is there suffi­cient light, space and aeration?  Ever since the catastrophe at RANA Plaza it is clear that factory buildings themselves must be appraised from the stand­point of building security. The third area to be addressed under social accoun­ta­bi­lity is assuring a decent wage for workers and their families. Do workers that manufac­ture products for us earn enough to ensure that they do not live in poverty? Do employers maintain reasonable working hours? Are workers secured by a contract? Are they able to join together in unions? Does the employer offer ongoing training?

Respon­si­bi­lity as the basis of ethics

Since its incep­tion, IVN has considered social accoun­ta­bi­lity a funda­mental value. We see our work as a means of offering our members a reliable tool, enabling them to add their contri­bu­tion to a chain of value creation on the basis of trans­pa­rent and fair practices. In the interest of proac­tive change, we see two instru­ments as the most effec­tive means to achieve that end:

IVN has developed compre­hen­sive guide­lines for both an ecolo­gical and a socially respon­sible produc­tion of textiles and leather. The quality seals that arise out of these guide­lines address socially explo­sive issues as delineated above, incor­po­ra­ting strict requi­re­ments to ensure compli­ance with social standards. These provide an orien­ta­tion for consu­mers. The goals are formu­lated and enforced as formu­lated for each seal. Consu­mers can see what the specific prere­qui­sites for the manufac­ture of the final product are.

At the same time, IVN actively engages in lobbying political insti­tu­tions. The current focus of this work is its parti­ci­pa­tion in Bündnis für nachhal­tige Texti­lien (alliance for sustainable textiles), a working group under the auspices of the German federal ministry of foreign aid. We are a member of the task force on social standards and decent wages, drawing on our profes­sional exper­tise to define a basis for practical and reali­stic solutions.