Journal of Supply Chain Management

The Apparel Industry Response to "Sweatshop" Concerns: A Review and Analysis of Codes of Conduct Members Only Content

The apparel industry has faced increased scrutiny in recent years due to governmental and consumer concern over the use of "sweatshop" labor in the production of goods. This is particularly true for those firms that use foreign suppliers. As a result, purchasing managers for U.S. apparel manufacturers and retailers have found themselves faced with the challenge of ensuring that their merchandise is produced under humane, equitable conditions, even though suppliers may be located in distant markets outside of the corporate umbrella. This study reviews industry responses to this challenge. Industry initiatives, such as the Apparel Industry Partnership Agreement and the National Retail Federation Statement of principles on Supplier Legal Compliance, are discussed, and the content of codes of conduct from major manufacturers and retailers are analyzed. The review indicates that while many firms have codes of conduct, there is only limited uniformity across codes, the codes lack substantial detail, and the codes are particularly lax in the area of monitoring and enforcement.

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