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2016 Sustainability Report
published 2017/08/01

Social responsibility in the supply chain

Social responsibility has a very high priority at VAUDE. We are not only committed to our employees at our headquarters in southern Germany, we are also committed to good working conditions for everyone involved in the manufacturing of our products. The task isn't always easy - but we are gladly working on meeting this challenge.

Supporting the process of improving working conditions

We see it as our duty to advance this issue in countries where the awareness of good working conditions and observance of human rights is still scarce. So we are committed to continuing our vigorous efforts toward helping our producers realize how important these standards are.


We support our producers with our own team

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a fundamental factor of our business practices. With our own team of CSR experts, we actively support our producers in complying with social standards. Our CSR employees at our headquarters in Obereisenbach – who are also members of the interdepartmental VAUDE CSR Team (more at "CSR Team as a driving force for sustainability") work together closely with the local CSR employees in Vietnam and China. Our producers are required to report directly to our CSR employees in Asia, who coordinate the implementation of standards together with the CSR experts in Obereisenbach.

The fact that our CSR employees are located directly in Vietnam and China is a great advantage for monitoring and implementing social standards. These employees are locals who speak the local language and who are very familiar with the local culture and conditions. In addition, they are intensively trained in the issues of CSR, social standards and local laws.

Through our CSR-workers in Asia, we can support and train the producers locally. We offer them direct, concrete assistance in the implementation of social standards on site. We not only want to show our producers their shortcomings, but also provide access to our expertise and our experience at all times. Therefore, we provide ongoing support as they improve working conditions at their sites.


Joint commitment with the Fair Wear Foundation

We became a member of the Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) in 2010. The FWF is an association of companies in the textile industry. It is a competent partner in helping us monitor and implement good working conditions. The principle of shared responsibility fits very well with us, which means that improvements are being made gradually with the producers. The aim is to create a holistic management system with regard to social standards.

Cooperation with FWF members

The Fair Wear Foundation provides us with the opportunity to cooperate with other member companies. If, for example, other manufacturers work with the same producer, we can perform a joint audit. This is advantageous in that the producer must be audited only once, reducing the waste of resources – both the producer’s and ours. Another positive aspect is that by collaborating, we have more influence on the producer. For example, after a joint audit or during joint training programs, we can work together with other member companies to enhance the effects of the improvement process. See also Best Practice Award.


Scope of the FWF

The FWF focuses exclusively on sewing producers and, when required, their subcontractors, as the most labor-intensive processes occur in these facilities. This is because sewing processes are currently not automated. Material suppliers are not monitored by the FWF.


The FWF also evaluates the member company

As a member of the FWF, VAUDE must also meet specific requirements as an ordering customer. The FWF monitors whether we adhere to these requirements in our annual Brand Performance Check (BPC). From these results, our efforts are evaluated in terms of social standards. VAUDE has currently reached the highest possible category. Read more here

FWF Regulations

The Code of Labor Practices (CoLP) is the basis of the cooperation between the FWF and the member company. The CoLP is based on eight core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) as well as on the UN Human Rights Charter. VAUDE has committed itself to implementing these standards among producers. The contents of the CoLP are:

Strict evaluation of new production partners

When we need a new producer and want to create a contract ( i.e. for strategic reasons), we evaluate thoroughly in advance whether the supplier meets our requirements in terms of quality, social standards and emissions management.

We audit new partners in advance

We have developed guidelines and a system for evaluating new partners. Our CSR and quality management team audit the conditions of the respective production site in advance using detailed checklists to determine whether the producer meets our requirements. Producers’ working conditions make up an important part of the review.


Compliance with social standards as a contract component

All of our producers are obligated to sign and follow the Code of Labor Practices. In addition to the VAUDE Quality Handbook, the CoLP is an integral part of the contract, which is also a prerequisite for the establishment of a business relationship with VAUDE. We provide comprehensive information on the requirements of the CoLP before starting the business relationship.

The CoLP must be displayed and accessible to all workers in the local language. This includes a Complaints Hotline for the workers. FWF auditors as well as our CSR employees check regularly whether the CoLP is posted in the local language.

All production sites are audited

This has helped us achieve our major goal of transparency across all of our production sites. The following deviations came to light in 2016:
Production FacilityV7V8V9V13V14V15V17V18V19V20V21Total VietnamC7C9C19Total ChinaCA1=CambodiaM1=Myanmar

VAUDE Purchasing Practices

1

1

1

1

1

1

 

1

1

1

1

1

1

3

1

4

4

 

VAUDE-Monitoring System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

Management System-Producer

 

1

 

 

1

1

2

 

 

 

1

 

 

2

2

6

 

 

Communication

2

1

2

 

2

 

 

1

3

2

3

3

2

4

3

7

 

3

Forced Labour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

Discrimination

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

1

1

Child Labour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0

 

2

Freedom of Association /Collective Bargaining

2

2

2

1

2

2

2

 

2

3

2

1

1

1

1

4

3

2

Payment of a living wage

2

1

3

1

5

2

1

3

3

8

6

3

2

1

3

5

1

4

Working Hours

1

1

4

2

 

 

 

 

2

2

4

3

2

3

3

6

 

2

Health and Safety

2

9

8

3

11

2

17

3

12

10

11

3

1

8

6

31

13

16

Legally binding employment relationsship

2

1

2

1

5

1

 

2

2

1

4

1

1

1

 

1

 

1

Total:

12

17

22

9

27

9

22

10

25

28

33

15

10

23

19

64

22

31

Performing audits

To ensure objective examination of working conditions at the production facility, producers are audited by independent FWF auditors. Read more here:

During the audit, the FWF closely examines whether or not the producer is complying with the contents of the Code of Labor Practices and applicable laws. If there are discrepancies to the terms of the CoLP or in terms of laws, these are recorded in a corrective action plan (CAP). 


A FWF Audit includes the following checks:


  • Complete inspection of the organization from inventory to finished products
  • Review of relevant documents
  • Employee interviews both within and outside of the production facility
  • Interviews with management

Interviews outside of the production facility are an important source of information, because the employee can answer questions more openly there. Each worker’s anonymity is ensured during the interview.

In addition, the FWF surveys local stakeholders on each of the eight standards on the conditions and implementation standards in the country.

Implementing corrections in an action plan

After each audit, a binding corrective action plan (CAP) is jointly agreed upon by the audit team and the management of the respective production facility. Any discrepancies with respect to the CoLP and also with regard to the local laws are listed.

We discuss this corrective action plan intensively with our producers. Together we develop joint solutions and also a schedule that specifies the date by which the respective discrepancies should be remedied. In most cases, the necessary measures can be implemented quickly and the complaints remedied. Occasionally, very critical deviations are uncovered which must be dealt with immediately. Many improvements, however, require more time before they can be implemented. If this is necessary, we give our producers the time needed, since this is the only way to achieve truly sustainable and systematic improvement. Overall, the challenge is to systematically and sustainably implement the measures taken and to embed them within the system.

Supporting the improvement process

Our CSR employee supports the producers throughout the improvement process. They are available to the producers with their knowledge and also regularly conduct follow-up visits where they examine the current state of the corrective measures.

In addition, the VAUDE CSR employees inspect each production site annually. We have developed a special checklist in which the all requirements are laid down which we strictly monitor. The results are then discussed with the producer.


Regular Re-Audits

In general, re-audits are carried out every three years. This corresponds to the guidelines of the FWF. If a producer does particularly poorly, we initiate a verification audit earlier to check what improvements have been achieved and what issues still need to be addressed.


Monitoring applies to subcontractors as well

The CoLP is also valid for subcontractors. Before we begin working with a producer, he must inform us of all production facilities in which he finishes our products. This applies both to his own factory as well as for subcontractors he might possibly use for production. This helps us achieve transparency of an important part of the supply chain.

Verification of subcontractors

Like all other production sites, we visit these sites in advance and perform reviews and evaluations. Based on our findings, we decide whether each subcontractor is allowed to make our products. All subcontractors who produce for VAUDE undergo the same monitoring as the producers with whom we work directly. This means that the subcontractors are also audited by the FWF. Together with the VAUDE CSR team in Asia, a corrective action plan is implemented when necessary.

Generally, at the beginning of the business relationship, each producer informs VAUDE in advance and obtains our consent before subcontractors are engaged. Our on-site quality control system gives us maximum visibility as to which production plants are used to manufacture our products.

If our producer can not take over all production steps, such as embroidery, printing or washing, he has to disclose the subcontractors to us. We are currently training selected partners how to monitor the outsourced production steps themselves.

Internal communication on social standards

We want to anchor our commitment to social standards in the supply chain throughout the organization, particularly during the entire product development phase and production process. To ensure this, we provide ongoing information on these issues to our employees at our headquarters in Obereisenbach, with internal reports, information events and training. In addition, the issue of social standards and all related issues is an integral part of the internal Update Meetings of all VAUDE product divisions. In addition, regular reports are made to the management.

For internal communication, we use our intranet, our training program "VAUDE Academy" as well as our Collection Presentations, which take place twice a year with all international distribution channels. 

GRI:   G4-LA15
Significant actual and potential negative impacts for labor practices in the supply chain
GRI:   G4-HR11
significant actual and potential negative human rights impacts in the supply chain and actions taken
GRI:   G4-Employment
Disclosure on Management Approach Employment
GRI:   G4-DMA Forced or Compulsory Labor
Disclosure on Management Approach Forced or Compulsory Labor
GRI:   G4-DMA Market Presence
Disclosure on Management Approach Market Presence
GRI:   G4-DMA Diversity and Equal Opportunity
Disclosure on Management Approach Diversity and Equal Opportunity
GRI:   G4-DMA Equal Remuneration for Women and Men
Disclosure on Management Approach Equal Remuneration for Women and Men
GRI:   G4-DMA Non-discrimination
Disclosure on Management Approach Non-discrimination
GRI:   G4-Child Labor
Disclosure on Management Approach Child Labor
GRI:   G4-GDMA Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
Disclosure on Management Approach Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
GRI:   G4-DMA Occupational Health and Safety
Disclosure on Management Approach Occupational Health and Safety
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