Sustainable Lives Sustainability is something we do together, every day

C&A is a global retail fashion company that touches the lives of approximately 51,000 employees, over 1 million apparel workers, and millions of store visitors 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.

We want our customers to feel good about shopping at C&A, our employees to be engaged in our sustainability journey, and the communities we serve to thrive. We aspire to be recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand across our retail markets, something we are proud to have achieved during 2019 in Brazil for the fourth year in a row, and once again in Germany. As in previous years, our industry-leading work in more sustainable cotton remains one of the top reasons we are viewed as a sustainable fashion leader.

We believe that deep engagement with local issues is the most effective way to promote sustainable behaviours across our retail markets. That means we guide the ‘why’ and ‘what’ through our 2020 global sustainability framework, and allow the retail markets to deliver the ‘how’ in ways that best connect with people at the local level.

Enabling customers

Engaging employees

Strengthening communities

Our ambition

Bringing sustainability to life for customers, employees, and communities

At C&A, we are working to integrate sustainability into everything we do. This includes:

  • Enabling our customers: We envision a fashion industry where customers are empowered to make more sustainable choices, do their part to contribute to the circular economy, and join our call to action through #WearTheChange. 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, and we aim to make sure we provide fashion our customers can feel good about..
  • Engaging our employees: C&A employees are not only key to the success of our sustainability strategy and our business, but are also essential in enabling customers to participate in sustainability. We want all our employees to feel engaged and supported, take pride in their work, believe in our company values, and be enthusiastic about engaging customers on our sustainability journey. Whether through sourcing and buying, or connecting with customers in our stores, every C&A employee has an important role in driving sustainability. We engage them in many ways, including through our annual Inspiring World campaign, which connects employees with our sustainability strategy and commitments in tangible ways.
  • Strengthening communities: Creating sustainable fashion extends into the communities where C&A colleagues, customers, and garment workers live. We are committed to fostering more sustainable lives in these communities through safe, fair, and resilient work environments where everyone feels connected and able to take action.


Our 2020 goals for sustainable lives

Engage employees:

Continuously increase employee sustainability engagement scores by creating a culture of sustainability among employees.

Establish and achieve key goals in our Women’s Empowerment Principles action plan.

Enable our customers to act more sustainably:

We will work to ensure C&A is recognised as the most sustainable retail fashion brand.

Our 2019 performance

Engaging customers in sustainable fashion

Throughout 2019, we leveraged #WearTheChange to communicate with — and engage — our customers in the journey towards making sustainable fashion the new normal. In Brazil, Mexico, and China, #WearTheChange has been localised to connect with customers more strongly. In Brazil and China, #WearTheChange has been translated for use in multi- faceted outreach campaigns in stores, online, and through creative consumer-facing  events, as well as internal communications to inspire further employee involvement and make sure our employees have the information they need to be sustainability   ambassadors.

Engaging our employees in sustainability

Our Inspiring World campaign, which completed its second year of partnership with C&A Foundation[1] in 2019, aligns closely with our 2020 sustainability strategy of creating sustainable products, a sustainable supply, and sustainable lives. During 2019, Inspiring World engaged employees in all four retail markets. More than 30,960 employees, or 63%, representing 20 countries, participated. Together, they helped raise nearly €1 million in donations from C&A Foundation[2], benefitting people around the world.

In each country where C&A has employees, we are supporting one or more local charities, as well as the global charity Canopy, which created the CanopyStyle initiative to eliminate sourcing from the world’s Ancient and Endangered Forests. Employees also identified one 'small action for big change' they planned to take, such as eliminating their own use of single-use plastics, donate to a food bank, planting a tree, or donating old clothing through C&A's 'we take it back' recycling programme.

Inspiring World strives to help C&A employees feel proud of our company, values, and efforts to make the world a better and more sustainable place. Over time, we expect it will foster more engaged C&A employees who value sustainability, while its charitable fundraising will lead to lasting environmental and community benefits.


Listening to our employees

In 2019, C&A China surveyed employees about what C&A is doing with respect to sustainability and how employees can contribute. Results were positive, with employees indicating they are proud of the company's contributions to community, society, and the environment, and paving the way towards more sustainability ambassadors among our global employees.


Advancing the Women’s Empowerment Principles

Since we announced that C&A had signed the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles in 2018, C&A headquarters and our four retail markets and licensees have developed market- specific roadmaps to drive progress implementing the principles according to a set of 12 questions developed for each principle.

In 2019, C&A retail markets and licensees began implementing their region-specific plans on gender parity and women's empowerment. These include a variety of training programmes for managers and supervisors on equality, diversity, unconscious bias, maternity/paternity/adoption leave, and others. C&A China has also incorporated WEP concepts and practices into new employee orientation training. Additional steps taken by some of the retail markets are a survey of both female and male employees on topics such as stress, working practices, work hours, and other psychosocial factors; a variety of non-discrimination policies which are part of the Code of Ethics; and analysis of employee gender by recruitment, level, function, and promotion.

Employee Code of Ethics

Our Employee Code of Ethics serves as the standard that guides behaviour and establishes what we expect at C&A. We continued to implement it globally during 2019, with the retail markets determining the most effective way to implement and engage employees in the Code. Implementation of and employee communication on the Code in C&A Europe’s head office was slowed by the pandemic. In China, the Code was rolled out and 100% of employees participated in training.

Read more on our values and ethics

Read more about how we govern sustainability


[1] In January 2020, C&A Foundation became part of Laudes Foundation.

[2] In January 2020, C&A Foundation became part of Laudes Foundation.

Supporting families and communities

Our global, multi-year humanitarian partnership with Save the Children and C&A Foundation[2] benefited nearly 2 million people in 2019, of which more than 1.1 million are children. Significant yearly funding of €3.36 million from the foundation towards Save the Children from 2018 to 2020 — is helping to amplify the scope of the partnership.

Together, the three organisations have deepened their commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), in particular school safety and urban resilience, and humanitarian response activities. Child Friendly Spaces are a crucial element. These protected environments are set up in communities affected by disaster and crisis and give children the chance to play, make friends, learn, and express themselves, helping them to heal from physical and mental suffering many have experienced.

C&A is also involving employees and customers in supporting the partnership, adding resources to further contribute to safety, justice, and comfort for children and families.

In 2019, C&A Europe and C&A Mexico raised almost €1.1million through cause-related marketing, donation boxes, and other campaigns in stores and with customers and employees.

Read more


[2] In January 2020, C&A Foundation became part of Laudes Foundation.


Where next?

Building on the success of our Inspiring World giving and engagement campaign, our five-year employee engagement plan includes:

  • Identifying additional sustainability ambassadors
  • Offering these ambassadors empowerment roles to help us build further momentum among all employees
  • Creating further opportunities for employee ownership of sustainability initiatives
  • Ultimately enlisting employees' ideas for developing the next iteration of our sustainability engagement strategy