Using ESG to Drive Change in the Fashion Industry

Using ESG to Drive Change in the Fashion Industry

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Have you seen the film Our Planet, Too Big To Fail? It’s a 43-minute documentary that clearly presents the role that all business, particularly the finance sector, plays in saving the planet. If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out

With the latest IPCC report, and more frequent and extreme weather events occurring around the world, there is no doubt that meaningful action against climate change is not only necessary, but urgent.  

This film does a great job of demonstrating how the public needs businesses to lead change, and how consumers can support this movement. 

Typically, we see a focus on the environmental impacts of businesses in response to the fact that we have reached unprecedented levels of production causing depletion of natural resources, devastation of biodiversity, and generating unmanageable amounts of waste and pollution, all of which are driving the climate crisis. 

While climate change must be a priority for all businesses, there are many other social factors that are crucial to sustainability, including the health and welfare of employees throughout a company’s supply chain.

In order to help drive necessary change, this month our WEAR webinar series will be breaking down ESG: Environmental, Social, Governance, which by definition is “an evaluation of a firm’s collective conscientiousness for social and environmental factors.”. In simpler terms, it’s about operating a truly sustainable business – one that ‘meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’ As UNESCO states, “sustainability is a paradigm for thinking about the future in which environmental, societal and economic considerations are balanced in the pursuit of an improved quality of life.”

Essentially, by identifying risks to your business (i.e. depletion of natural resources or human rights violations), setting targets to mitigate these risks (and committing to them!), and tracking progress through measurement and reporting, your company can build an ESG framework that provides a data-centred, insight-driven roadmap that will inform change and ultimately future-proof your business. Furthermore, by being transparent and effectively communicating your priorities across all aspects of your business, you will help build trust amongst your stakeholders, including supply chain, investors, employees and consumers. 

ESG is a huge topic that affects every aspect of a business – not something that any one department can lead or own. To ensure you’re building a strategic, integrated ESG strategy that guides positive change, you’ll need to engage leaders from several departments: Communications, HR, Procurement, and Sustainability.

Furthermore, ESG reports give consumers the power to respond to how companies align culture and business – both as consumers and as investors. As David Attenborough states in Our Planet, Too Big To Fail, “The value we place on a stable natural world will ultimately determine its future. Do we invest money into practices that lead us deeper into this crisis or into the solutions that could get us out of it?”  

Click here to join us on October 20th and to learn more about each of the four sessions we have lined up – there is something for everyone. 

FTA + ESG

As FTA works externally to help reduce the impact of the fashion industry on both people and planet, we also recognize that our organization has an impact of its own. Like any business, FTA strives to integrate ESG into its mission and mandate through policies established by our Board of Directors to guide our work.

Environmental policies: 

  • Given the increase in remote-work since the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic, FTA is relying on virtual meetings and webinars to conduct much of its work. We partnered with South Pole to offset the environmental impact of our monthly WEAR webinar series;
  • Before Covid, and when we return to in-person events in 2022, FTA strives to produce zero-waste events and serves only local, sustainable food and beverage;
  • Though printing is minimal, FTA uses only FSC certified post consumer recycled paper products;
  • FTA advocates for the 7Rs of fashion: reduce, reuse, repair, repurpose, resale, rent, recycle

Social policies: 

  • FTA offers a flexible, primarily remote, work environment;
  • FTA’s Diversity Committee ensures that the strength and competitiveness of FTA continues to be rooted in the representative perspectives and inclusive best practice that we are respected for, and constantly improving upon.

Governance policies: 

  • Director independence (all board members are independent, including Chair)
  • A skills matrix is used to identify Board strengths and needs;
  • Clear term limits are set for all board members;
  • To ensure proper risk management oversight, FTA has several sub-committees (e.g. HR, governance, diversity).

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