Consumers, governments, and companies have increasing concerns about the sources of the products and services they buy nowadays; they care about quality, safety, ethics and environmental impact. To do business in a transparent way is not just purely a trend anymore, it is also a need to meet legal requirement as more and more governments from buying countries implement laws/directives to govern an effective and transparent business environment.
WRAP is a strong believer in the importance of transparency when it comes to social compliance. Earlier this year, we reevaluated our approach to social compliance certification and placed transparency at its core. In all our engagements with the broad range of stakeholders we work with, we are seeing great support for our new approach to working hours and, in general, for the idea of greater transparency.
This is also something that is being reflected in the industry as a whole. Over the past several months, speakers at all kinds of industry forums and trade shows have been sharing with their audiences the belief that transparency benefits businesses. While it’s hard to summarize all of the different thoughts on this important topic, some key themes are mentioned frequently, and these include the following advantages of transparency:
- First and foremost, transparency fosters trust, which is extremely beneficial for long-term relationship-building.
- Companies that are more transparent usually convey a positive public image of being able to respond quickly and more efficiently to problems when controversial situations arise.
- Business partners and multi-stakeholders are likely to continue the relationship even if unfavorable information is disclosed, because at least the spirit of integrity is demonstrated.
- Staff members get more involved with their work in a transparent environment that encourages open and straight-forward communications. This helps enhance the level of morale and job satisfaction.
We all know transparency is not easily achieved; it requires process by which a company needs a solid foundation and continuous improvement over time. This is exactly why WRAP requires the factory to commit to on-going improvements to reduce their excessive working hours under our new approach. Factories also found that our new approach to working hours is a pragmatic one that reflects the practical situation especially in a labor intensive textile and garment industry in China.
This industry currently engages with over 230,000 enterprises accounting for one trillion USD of turnover, which is 10% of China’s total GDP. We hope to see social compliance can move a little bit further if all of us in the industry can do a better job of being transparent.