As a world-class brand, Columbia is committed to working with world-class finished goods and raw materials suppliers. We only work with vendors that share our values of fair and ethical treatment of workers, safe working conditions, transparency, and sustainable manufacturing practices.
In 2015, the Columbia brand worked with 281 independent finished goods suppliers in 18 countries to make its products. Managing social and environmental performance across our supply chain starts with having high standards in place, strong oversight and transparency into supplier practices, as well as being a responsible business partner that supports sustainable practices and continuous improvement.
We have a team of dedicated Corporate Responsibility professionals who understand this complex landscape and who work with our suppliers to measure, track and improve social and environmental performance.
A couple of standards that we strongly adhere to:
Standards of Manufacturing Practices (SMP): Code of conduct based on the International Labor Organization conventions. These standards lay the foundation for our working relationship with suppliers. Our SMP outlines standards on the prohibition of Forced Labor, Child Labor, Harassment or Abuse, as well as policies and practices that promote Nondiscrimination, Freedom of Association, Compensation, Employment Relationship, Hours of Work, Health and Safety, Environment and Ethical Conduct.
Our Corporate Responsibility team works with our suppliers to assess and improve social responsibility performance over time. The team conducts regular audits of finished goods factories, with the goal of auditing 100% of factories at least once per year, or more often if we find serious issues. In 2015, 95% of our finished goods suppliers were the focus of at least one audit. To get an accurate snapshot of these conditions, 100% of our SMP audits are conducted unannounced.
We review the performance of suppliers on a monthly basis, not only on audit results, but also on remediation efforts, cooperation, management systems and transparency. This score is shared internally with our sourcing team.
In 2015, the number of finished goods suppliers we used declined from 286 in 2014 to 281 in 2015. At the same time, 80% of our finished goods suppliers received a B rating or better, up from 71% in 2014.
We document and track non-compliance issues in our finished goods suppliers, working closely with suppliers to determine the root cause and implement a remediation plan. If necessary, we also require suppliers to participate in training programs to help them build management skills to remediate the issue and prevent similar issues from recurring.
Higg Index Facility Environmental Module: The Higg Index Facility Environmental Module, managed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, assesses practices in the areas of energy use, waste, chemical management, water use, wastewater practices and greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2015, we completed our third round of Higg Index supplier assessments with approximately 94% of our finished goods suppliers completing the assessment. We have been using the Higg Index framework with our finished goods facilities since it launched in 2012 and have seen positive improvements, such as increased energy measurement and target-setting at a supplier level.
Improve Worker Well-Being
Above and beyond standard compliance, we partner with suppliers to support improved working conditions and increase worker satisfaction in the factories and communities where our products are made. We also work to foster open dialogue between workers and management in order to create a better environment where worker feedback is encouraged and accepted.