We are fair and responsible to all people directly or indirectly affected by our business. We work systematically towards fair treatment of all people in our business and in our supply chain. We have established production offices in our main production markets that enables us to drive improvements. Working with social improvements in production countries demands that we have a long-term perspective and knowledge of local aspects. We always seek cooperation where necessary.
Respecting people and workers in our supply chain is a fundamental part of our business. We cooperate with our selected suppliers to create good working conditions and a safe working environment. All factory workers in our supply chains have the right to fair working conditions. We follow acknowledged worker`s rights and human rights in addition to local laws and regulations.
You can read our ethical guidelines here.
Our responsibility covers the whole value chain and we follow a product life-cycle approach. The challenges we face in the textile industry are many and complex. We want to meet them with transparency and honesty. We keep our focus on long-term improvements and development. We have developed a Responsible Sourcing Policy where we communicate how we work with our supply chain in order to meet our targets of the least possible negative harm to people and environment.
We also have several other policies targeting salient issues in our production. See the full list of policies here.
How we work
Due Diligence Process
We have established due diligence processes in order to follow up our supply chain. This process include factory pre-assessments, factory inspections, factory follow-up activities, interviews with workers and document reviews. Inspections are executed both by external and internal auditors and they are mostly unannounced, but can also be semi-announced or announced. During inspections, we carefully assess the factory on our ethical and environmental criteria outlines in our Supplier Code of Conduct. We have a worker engagement approach, which means that we listen to all relevant stakeholders and most particularly the factory workers to consider all concerns. All relevant documentation are reviewed to ensure the factory abides the laws and regulations as well as our requirements. This includes policies, certificates, licenses, contracts etc.
We are committed to cease, prevent and mitigate harm in the supply chain. The assessment of the factory is what makes up the Corrective Action Plan. If we identify an issue at the factory, we expect the factory to correct this within an agreed upon timeframe. Our internal CSR staff is responsible for all follow-up activities of the Corrective Action Plan. Additionally, we are a part of capacity building projects together with suppliers and factories. This included training programs and specific projects targeting an identified salient risk.
We have established regional offices in our four main production markets: China, Bangladesh, India and Turkey. Local presence in these markets enables us to collaborate closely with suppliers and factories to create better working conditions. We have dedicated staff that follow up production and factories.
Ethical Trade Norway
We have been a member of Ethical Trade Norway since 2003. Each year we report on our work, our achievements and our challenges when it comes to sustainable supply chains. Additionally, we collaborate with Ethical Trade Norway on supply chain projects and other activities with focus on improvements and capacity building.
The report for 2018 is publicly available here.
The report for 2019 is publicly available here.
Our sustainability report for 2020 is publicly available here.
Grievance mechanism and channels
We have established a grievance channel for Varner employees and external stakeholders if they experience any violations to the Varner Code of Ethics or if they are treated unfairly in our business operations. The channel is firstname.lastname@example.org. Each case coming through this cannel will be handled swiftly and confidentially.
We also have other grievance mechanisms in our supply chain. These mechanisms are operated either by the factory or by an external third party that we cooperate with. In Turkey we cooperate with MUDEM in order to provide refugees in our production support regarding labor rights. Through our partnership with The Accord in Bangladesh, workers in our factories in Bangladesh are able to express their concerned through an established channel managed by the Accord organization. Workers in India will also have the possibility to express concerns through a digital grievance channel that has been developed in a project we are a part of.
Transparency and Traceability
Being transparent about where we produce does not solve any challenges alone, however it is an important stepping stone.
Public factory list
Openness is important to us. Because of this, we share the list of 100% garment factories used for Varner production. The list also includes approved processing units (printing units, embroidery units, washing units and certain other processing units), which is approximately 65 % of all such processing units.
We do not own any factories, but cooperate with approximately 350 factories in Asia and Europe. It is important that we share a common approach to responsible production and all factories we work with must agree to follow our Code of Conduct and go through an approval process.
Our global factory list can be found here. The list includes full name of the factory, address, supplier, number of workers, breakdown by gender, and product type. We have chosen to align the list to the Transparency Pledge criteria. The list is updated twice per year.
Open Apparel Registry
We publish our factory list at the Open Apparel Registry (OAR). This is an open source map and database of global apparel facilities. The map is open to the public and you can search for the brand contributor or the factory itself. You can see the map of factories here or click on the map below.
Varner signed the Accord for the first time when it was established in 2013. The agreement was, at it still is today, a legally binding agreement between each textile company and the international trade unions. The aim: to ensure that all ready-made-garment factories in Bangladesh are safe places to work.
By signing the agreement, textile companies commit to contribute to this work through financing and enabling inspections in textile factories, and ensure that necessary improvements are implemented. Inspections of buildings, electric safety and fire safety are completed in accordance with internationally recognized standards. Corrective action plans are made based on the findings during inspections. These are conducted by qualified engineers.
The agreement has since its inception in 2013 been renewed and updated two times (in 2018 and 2021). In 2020, the organization Ready-Made-Garment Sustainability Council (RSC) was established to take over the operational safety work related to the Accord. RSC is a collaboration between textile companies, international unions and the textile industry in Bangladesh.
The new Accord from 2021 – now called The International Accord for Health and Safety in the Textile and Garment Industry – contains the same elements as before: inspections and corrective action plans regarding factory safety, training of safety committees and an independent grievance channel. All with a high degree of transparency, with corrective action plans per factory publicly available.
Varner joins the new Accord as part of the Brands Association which represents the textile companies in the RSC. We signed this renewed agreement in August 2021.
South India Mill Project
We face many challenges in the cotton industry. Because of this, we are a part of a project in the spinning mill sector in South India. The project focus on improving and strengthening working conditons for young women. Specific activities are carried out to increase awareness on workers’ rights among the workers, identify recruitment agents and establish best practices and improve working conditions and communication between workers and management.
The project won the community engagement and partnerships category at the India United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles Awards 2021, recognizing how the project has reached 25,000 female textile workers and their families with efforts to increase knowledge about labour rights.
Read more about our collaborative partner Social Awareness Voluntary Education here.