As a responsible business, our first priority is the safety and wellbeing of the people who make our clothes and products. We are also conscious of the workers whose livelihoods rely on employment at our suppliers’ factories.
The situation in Myanmar is extremely concerning and very complex, with international stakeholders – including governments and unions – holding differing views as to the best course of action for the garment sector.
Throughout this challenging time, we have leveraged the strength of our ethical audit programme, longstanding relationships and partnerships on the ground to monitor for compliance with our Code of Conduct, facilitated by our own team in Yangon. However, given the unpredictability of the environment, we determined that any decision regarding the future of our business in the country would be further guided by the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI)’s independent, evidence-based assessment on human rights and responsible business conduct within the country, which has now been published.
The ETI report makes for very difficult reading and shows there has been a significant deterioration in the situation in Myanmar. This poses significant challenges to our ability to ensure the standards we require to protect the safety and rights of the people who make our clothes and products.
In light of this, we believe our only option is to begin working towards a responsible exit from the country. In what remains a highly complex, dynamic and unpredictable situation, we will manage this exit in close collaboration with our partners and stakeholders in Myanmar and internationally, following the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
We will continue to monitor for compliance with our Code of Conduct as we work through this, and as an immediate priority, we are looking at what additional measures we can put in place to support workers in our supplier factories through this interim period.