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H&m and Sustainable Development

Essay by   •  May 5, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,723 Words (7 Pages)  •  723 Views

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Hennes and Mauritz, commonly known as H&M, is a Swedish multinational clothing-retail company known for its fast-fashion clothing for men, women, teenagers and children. H&M operates in 62 countries with over 4,500 stores and employed around 132,000 people. It is the second-largest global clothing retailer, just behind Spain-based Inditex. The company has a significant on-line presence, with on-line shopping available in 33 countries.

To meet the economical, ecological and social requirements of both present and future generations, H&M is really focused on making fashion sustainable. Sustainability has become the core strategy of their business. The brand says it itself: “We want to use our size and scale to lead the change towards fully circular and truly sustainable fashion”.

H&M is implied in several sustainable development goals. The brand is fighting against poverty and exploitation. It believes that everyone working in the textile industry should earn a wage they can live on, regardless of who they are and where they work. Instead of making economies on employees’ wages, it tries to be cost-conscious and have very efficient logistics.

        Moreover, H&M cares about the good health and well-being of its employees. All factories producing for H&M group should be safe and all workers should feel safe at their everyday workplace. H&M has signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh to contribute to insure workplace safety in the textile industry. It makes a point of honour to respect safety requirements in all its factories (fire alarm, emergency light, fire doors, extinguishers, evacuation plans, etc.).

        Then, provide a decent work for its employees is very important for H&M. The group has signed in 2016 the “Global Deal”, that aims to address the challenges in the global labour market and improve social dialogue and working conditions.

Also, H&M believes that sourcing from developing countries is not a bad thing but that it supports their development (with thousands of jobs created) and influences them to do more partnerships and trade.

The brand is involved in making innovations to keep developing its sustainable strategy as well. It tries to use different materials and technologies in order to reduce the negative impact on environment and on people working across the value chain. Additionally, once every year, H&M launches the H&M Conscious Exclusive Collection which is a fashionable higher-end collection made from more sustainable materials.

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        Thanks to its “Conscious” range, old clothes are collected and used to create energy. In addition, the group tries to act responsibly towards the production and the consumptions of its goods. The raw materials like cotton and silk come from organic farms (for most of them) and polyester, polyamide, wool, glass and plastic come from recycled materials. The brand has banned chemicals that are considered as hazardous for use in the production process. Moreover, there is a special index in their website which indicates to the consumers how to recycle their clothes, sell them, repair if damaged or even tell the consumers that the temperature of the washing can be lower and that washes can be spaced out.

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H&M even gives a vouchers and reductions for customers that bring back the clothes they do not want any more in order to recycle them.

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        Sensitive to climate changes, H&M aims to reach a climate positive value chain by 2040, which means that it will reduce more greenhouse gas emissions than what the value chain emits. To do this, it will invest money into existing natural mechanisms, technological innovations and solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

        Furthermore, H&M feels concerned about water because it is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. That is why it has built a partnership with WWF to develop strategies around the following key terms: improving the use of water, building water awareness, collective action and measuring water impact and risk.

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        H&M group firmly believe no animal should have to suffer in the name of fashion, and that all animals should be treated with respect at all times. It makes collaboration with organisations such as Humane Society International and the Textile Exchange in order to make animal protection a priority in the fashion industry, from ethical sourcing of animal origin fabrics to achieving a global ban on animal testing for beauty products.

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        H&M is also supporting equality for woman, refugees and homeless through the H&M Foundation which is a non-profit foundation which was established in order to implement positive change and improve living standards. This foundation is also supporting lots of projects to give a fair education to children all over the world.

        Then, business ethics represent a big issue for H&M. The group is respecting laws and regulations wherever it is operating, paying taxes accordingly and taking a clear position against corruption. It says “we have a zero tolerance policy and take a proactive approach in preventing corruption. This is described in our Code of Ethics, which applies to all of our business partners, not only suppliers, and of course all our 171,000 colleagues around the world”.

        Finally, the H&M group is making lots of collaborations and partnerships with other fashion brands, global trade unions, academics, researchers and organisations as Better Cotton Initiative, Better Work Program by the International Labour Organization, Clean Shipping Index, Ethical Trade Initiative, Textile Exchange and WWF (to name a few).

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        To conclude, H&M group is fulfilling at least 14 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, among which 8 of them have a direct impact on fashion sustainability and 6 that are indirectly implemented through H&M Foundation and collaborations with partners. This is the proof of a true willingness to make the fashion industry sustainable. Indeed, the brand is trying to involve each of the stakeholders from colleagues, customers and suppliers to communities, non-governmental organisations, policymakers and investors. According to the Corporate Journey to Sustainability Maturity, I would place H&M at the level 5 because the group is involved in most of the SDGs and to all its stakeholders as well. It has integrated sustainable development in their strategy and core values.

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