We’re committed to making sure our workplaces and policies allow our employees to contribute their very best, fulfilling their potential and addressing customer needs. Each of our regions has the flexibility to address diversity as is locally relevant. For instance, C&A Brazil maintains a Diversity Committee, which has been working on diversity across ethnic origin, gender, and LGBTQ+. In 2018, C&A Brazil continued raising awareness through actions such as Diversity Week; a Pride Collection; lectures and actions for International Women’s Day; and a variety of recruiting fairs dedicated to minorities, transgender people, and immigrants. In recognition of our diversity work, the CEO of C&A Brazil was also invited to share our practices at the Plataforma Liderança Sustentável, a prestigious sustainability event. As we look to the future, we will continue to find ways to support our employees in a diverse and inclusive workplace, and engage them as ambassadors of the C&A brand.
Committing to the Women’s Empowerment Principles
On International Women’s Day in March 2018, we announced that C&A had signed the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles, committing the company to gender parity and the empowerment of women. Women are the driving force behind the apparel industry and our brand, and gender equity is an important principle of C&A’s culture.
We communicated our commitment to the Women’s Empowerment Principles internally through a variety of media, including letters, video, and live in-store events. Our regions have since developed roadmaps for implementing the principles
Since the announcement, C&A headquarters and our four regions have developed market-specific roadmaps to drive progress implementing the principles. This work draws from the principles gap analysis tool developed by the United Nations and BSR, and aims to address a set of 12 questions developed for each principle by C&A.
C&A employees by gender and contract type
C&A employees by contract type and location
Our commitment to the Women’s Empowerment Principles is in line with our activity in partnership with C&A Foundation, which is working to achieve gender equity in the apparel industry. Both C&A and C&A Foundation strongly believe that to fundamentally transform fashion into a force for good, gender inequality and violence against women must be addressed. In each of its philanthropic programmes, C&A Foundation works with partners to promote women's voices, leadership skills, and capacity to exercise their rights. In October 2018, the foundation also released a statement of its ambition to incorporate equity, inclusion and diversity both in its partnerships and in its own operating model.
C&A is committed to equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of age, gender, ethnic origin, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, or disability. We support fairness and transparency in our way of working, with our employees and suppliers, and through our Fairness Channels – the tools we use to identify and address any issues that arise internally or with suppliers. In 2018, the C&A Fairness Channels investigated four cases in total, and investigated and resolved each case. C&A Mexico also expanded the Fairness Channels to suppliers, providing them with a channel to share input about C&A employees.
In 2018, the C&A Fairness Channels investigated 83 cases. We are continually improving our training, education, and approach to the Fairness Channels, which resulted in greater awareness of the Fairness Channels and an increased number of reports during the 2018 commercial year. Also during the year, C&A Mexico expanded the Fairness Channels to its suppliers, providing them with a channel to share input.
Our stores clearly display the names of C&A contacts for concerns or questions. We deal with any concerns rapidly, working to find the best solutions for all parties. Of course, we also comply fully with anti-discrimination laws in the countries where we operate, and encourage diversity across all our departments. All job roles, promotions, and rewards are awarded purely on the basis of merit. Should any issue of potential discrimination be reported, the executive board takes appropriate measures to investigate and resolve it.
Our transparency commitment and practices were reviewed and rated number 4 in the 2019 Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index. This review of 200 global fashion brands and retailers ranks companies according to their level of disclosure about their social and environmental policies, practices, and impact. Notably, we also ranked number 1 in the 2018 Fashion Transparency Index Brazil, which analysed 20 brands.
Doing business ethically has been central to our company since it was established 178 years ago. In line with our values, we have a deeply rooted respect for others, a passion for serving our customers, and a keen appreciation for trust and responsibility. Today, maintaining our high ethical standards is an important way of meeting our customers’ expectations – and our own. Our global Employee Code of Ethics outlines how employees should behave, what a good working environment should be, and what good leadership looks like.
Respecting human rights
C&A respects the human rights of everyone we work with. Our Supplier Code of Conduct and Employee Code of Ethics are guided by the latest best practice on human rights, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Additionally, we conducted a human rights gap assessment and are determining how our buying practices could affect human rights issues in our supply chain, and if needed, how to address any issues.
From this foundational work, we are now conducting human rights due diligence of our supply chain, including our sourcing and buying practices. We have a rigorous auditing process and maintain a zero-tolerance approach to serious issues at our suppliers’ production units.
We are engaged in a pilot project to understand the steps needed to develop a sustainable and scalable approach to reducing excessive working hours, while maintaining decent salaries for workers. Suppliers have been asked to analyse the practices within their factories that could lead to excessive working hours, and C&A used the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) purchasing practices questionnaire to understand how our purchasing could exacerbate or improve the issue. To date, all but one of the pilot factories in Bangladesh saw a significant reduction in working hours, and have maintained this achievement. In China, the pilot factory took longer to reduce excessive working hours, but has achieved this gradually and maintained the decrease over time.
We also have continued our work on purchasing practices. In 2018, we adopted the ACT Global Purchasing Practices commitment and are working on a time-bound implementation plan that includes a monitoring and accountability mechanism.
We also conducted additional due diligence visits to RDS-certified supply chains to find out where improvements could be made.
Going beyond responsible marketing
C&A communicates with many different people around the world. We want to create products everyone can enjoy, regardless of age or size, and recognise the need to reflect this in our advertising campaigns and choice of models. Through our advertising, we aim to share our values and positive attitude to life. So, when we’re developing new advertising campaigns, we will continue to avoid content that could be seen as discriminatory, defamatory, or hurtful. We apply the same rigour to complying with the laws and guidelines of national advertisers’ associations.
Beyond our duty to advertise responsibly, we are communicating actively to customers on sustainability, with the launch of our global #WearTheChange platform in 2018, which covers all of our customer-facing sustainability activities.