C&A is a global retail fashion company that touches the lives of nearly 60,000 employees, 1 million of our suppliers' workers and 100 million customers each year. What we do – and the way we do it – has a significant impact on many different groups of people. We focus on strengthening communities, promoting positive actions and giving back to local communities.
We seek to empower our employees to be sustainability ambassadors in our stores and enable our customers to undertake more sustainable actions. Our particular focus on Inspiring Women (our flagship employee engagement campaign) recognises how women are the driving force behind the apparel industry and our brand: 80% of our employees are women, and approximately the same percentage is true of the workers in our supply chain and the customers who shop with us.
Making sustainability the new normal
We want our customers to feel good about shopping at C&A and our employees to feel proud of our contribution to the community, society and environment. Our goal is for C&A to be recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand across our regions: something we are proud to have achieved in Brazil for the second year in a row. Our strong position in Germany and the Netherlands also continued and we have strengthened our performance in China, Mexico and France.
Creating fashion with a positive impact doesn't end with our employees and customers. It extends into the communities where C&A colleagues, customers and garment workers live too. We’ll foster more sustainable lives in these communities, through safe, fair, resilient and inspiring work environments where everyone feels connected, and able to take action.
Our customers shouldn't have to choose between looking good, feeling good and doing good. They deserve great fashion that's also good for the people who make their clothes, and good for the environment. No decision or trade-off should be necessary and at no extra cost to the customer. Or the people who make their clothes.
C&A employees are key to the success of the business and the way we enable our customers to contribute to good causes and understand more about sustainability. We want every employee to feel engaged and supported, to take pride in their work, believe in our company values and be enthusiastic about engaging our customers. In the future, we look forward to every employee being in a position to drive sustainability within sourcing and buying groups, and connecting with customers in our stores.
Many of our operations take place in areas facing serious environmental and social challenges. We aim to create strong, resilient communities where we live and source from, to support the many workers that create our products.
We will continuously increase employee sustainability engagement scores by creating a culture of sustainability among employees and supporting equality and diversity.
Enable our customers to act sustainably:
We will work to ensure C&A is recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand.
Listening to our customers
2016 was the second year of our sustainability consumer insights survey, in which C&A was recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand in Brazil, strengthening our leadership position in this important market compared to 2015. Our strong position in Germany and the Netherlands was also confirmed and we have improved our scores in China, Mexico and France. The survey also showed that customers continue to be interested in the origin of their clothing and how their clothes are made.
Promoting sustainable actions
Our sustainability consumer insights survey revealed an eagerness for greater engagement in the issues we’re tackling for our customers. We’ve introduced groundbreaking products: the first retail GOLD level Cradle-to-Cradle CertifiedTM products at scale in Europe, Brazil and Mexico; and organic cotton baby clothes in China, designed to help transform the Chinese organic cotton market. We’ve also responded by communicating on the issues that we think will resonate most with those markets: sustainable denim in Brazil and responsible down in Europe. And we have many more campaigns planned in 2017.
Employee Code of Ethics
Our new Employee Code of Ethics has been launched in Brazil, China and Mexico and is the standard that guides behaviour, setting out what we expect at C&A. We will continually integrate our new code of conduct further into all retail markets over 2017.
2016 was the second year of our flagship employee engagement campaign: Inspiring Women. This year saw us adopt a more localised approach, running the campaign in Brazil, Mexico and our Asian sourcing countries. Over 15,800 employees took part, a total of 78% of our workforce in these countries. Europe and China have joined Inspiring Women 2017.
We continued our partnership with Save the Children for the second year, raising over €500,000 through our European customers. In Mexico, a Christmas campaign sold over 25,000 items and donated over €18,000 to equip schools in Mérida to build child-friendly spaces in case of natural disasters.
C&A’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Jeffrey Hogue, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the commitment of our customers to support our partner Save the Children in the refugee crisis. Their generosity has provided tangible impact in the lives of thousands of refugees across Europe.”
Every sustainable lifestyle is different
We are a global fashion retail company made up of four regions, encompassing many different cultures, people and societies. However, the nature of what constitutes a sustainable lifestyle will be determined by local factors. Therefore, we must guide the ‘why’ and ‘what’ from a global level with our 2020 global sustainability framework, and allow our regions to deliver the ‘how’ in ways that make sense to them at a local level. We believe that deep engagement with local issues is the most effective way to normalise sustainable behaviours across our different regions and cultures.