Ethical and sustainable business is not only a moral decision, but also an economical one. Many businesses make the choice to become more ethical as a selling point, especially if their clientele is particularly concerned about the source of the products they are purchasing.
What Is Ethical Sourcing?
Ethical Sourcing means ensuring that good labour law standards are met whilst your products are being manufactured, and this includes when your materials are being created as well as when they are made into clothing.
Many people seem to get confused about the process involved in ethics, and contrary to popular belief ethical sourcing does not have anything to do with the environment.
Ethical sourcing involves making sure your workers at all stage of the products development are provided with decent labour standards, this includes zero discrimination, a decent working age (typically 16 or over), a fair wage payment, reasonable hours and a safe and hygienic place of work.
Why Should I Ethically Source My Materials?
The most obvious consequence of ethical sourcing is a clear conscience, but more than that you gain a unique selling point as well as a new target audience and a possible marketing advantage that your competitors may not have.
It can also be used for PR as stating that you ethically source your materials promotes a sense of transparency within your company and can encourage an element of trust between consumer and brand.
There are certain circles of investors that look specifically to invest in moral, ethical companies, as ethical produce is a growing market. The moral aspect can encourage motivation in staff and promote loyalty.
However, as with any business venture, it is important to acknowledge the possible side effects of ethical sourcing. It can cost more and become time consuming to source your materials, but in the bigger picture it does result in a higher quality product for your consumers which will be of better value.
How Can I Introduce Ethical Measures Into My Business?
So once you have made the decision to introduce ethics to your sourcing procedures, what steps can be made to ensure that you are using the right channels?
A British organisation created in 2005 called The Ethical Fashion Forum offers SOURCE, an industry network that provides a directory of sustainable sourcing which could be worth looking at even if it is just to give you some ideas.
There are many support systems that aim to make the global fashion supply chain more transparent, such as Labor Link, a mobile platform that enables workers to report on their working conditions directly to the other end of the chain. Apps and advantages such as these openly promote good ethics and help you build trust with your stakeholders, as they will know that you are truly monitoring the process of development.