April 24 2017 marked the 4th anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, that killed over 1’100 garment workers and injured an additional 2’600. Against this backdrop, a coalition of 137 global institutional investors with over USD 4.3 trillion under management, amongst which Ethos and the 11 members of the Ethos Engagement Pool International, issued a statement highlighting the success of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (‘Accord’).
Immediately after the tragic accident in 2013, Ethos and other institutional investors reacted by requesting textile companies with supply chains in Bangladesh to compensate the victims and to put in place measures to prevent such tragedies from recurring in the future. As a result, the ‘Accord’ was established, signed by trade unions, NGOs and over 300 apparel brands and retailers across the globe. The ‘Accord’, created a five-year, legally binding framework for factory inspections aiming to identify and remediate fire safety issues, unsafe electrical installations and problems with building structures.
During the past four years, 1600 factory audits have taken place and a significant part of the identified problems have been remedied. With one year left in its mandate, investors acknowledge the significant progress made, proving the effectiveness of the ‘Accord’ model that has influenced how apparel brands and retailers view their relationship to, and responsibility for, workers in their extended supply chains. But more needs to be accomplished, thus Ethos and the other signatories of the statement continue to strongly encourage companies to prolong the ‘Accord’ as long as necessary to complete the remediation of outstanding issues in order to enhance worker safety in the Bangladeshi garment sector.