Working Together for Change in Bangladesh

By Jan Saumweber
July 22, 2014
Responsible Sourcing

This week, I’ve been in Washington, D.C., for the Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. It’s amazing that in one year, this coalition of retailers has driven significant change to the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. Not only have we worked to make it a safer place, we’re also seeing the promising beginnings of a long-term shift toward a culture of safety, compliance and transparency.

From the structural and fire safety experts providing guidance to factory owners on how to make buildings safer, to the trainers who are not only educating workers on how to escape a dangerous situation but also empowering them to speak up when things aren’t right – this level of collaboration has been game-changing for Bangladesh.   

My team at Walmart is charged with driving the company’s global responsible sourcing efforts. Over the past year, our ability to impact our supply chain at the most critical intersections for improvement has been accelerated by working together with our Alliance member partners on the ground in Bangladesh.  In factories where we have mutual sourcing interests, owners are receiving clear and consistent guidance related to standards and together we’ve insisted that factories in remediation ensure that workers only work in buildings with an acceptable level of compliance.

As we look to the year ahead, I am ever grounded by the reason we’re doing this – and am hopeful that the investment of time and resources by people who are passionate about making a difference will result in a long-term positive impact on the workers.