We strive to provide our customers with safe products, seek to maintain safe and ethical manufacturing facilities, and endeavor to reduce environmental harm wherever possible. We adhere to a manufacturing philosophy of Continuous Improvement, which relies on documentation, measurement, comparison against benchmarks, and ongoing innovation in pursuit of better ways to meet our goals.
Vendor Code of Conduct
Our Vendor Code of Conduct and accompanying implementation standards detail the principles and practices that we expect our manufacturing suppliers to uphold. The Code, which is based on universally accepted, fundamental principles and local laws, represents our commitment to source goods from suppliers who value and incorporate these provisions into their operations. Suppliers must always comply with the highest requirement, whether it be the applicable local law or a WSI requirement. They must have a system in place to ensure they are continuously up to date with applicable laws and regulations and WSI requirements for the following:
- Labor Practices
- Health & Safety
- Environmental Protection
- Ethical Conduct
- Management Systems
- Transparency, Responsibility & Compliance
Our goal is to help suppliers understand the purpose of our requirements and to implement consistent and robust systems that will sustain their social performance. Our Code of Conduct also requires all suppliers to expect the same standards from their sub-suppliers. To ensure the factories we use are safe, secure and fair places of employment for workers, factories in our audit scope are audited each year through semi-announced audits within a three-week window. Audits are conducted on site for one or two days, by qualified auditors from independent third-party audit firms who are trained in-depth on WSI audit standards and protocols.
Through a complete factory tour (including production and non-production areas), document and record reviews, as well as worker and management interviews, the auditors review the compliance of the factory against set standards for Transparency, Labor Practices, Health & Safety, Ethical Conduct and Environmental Protection. The violations identified during the audit are ranked according to severity, which determines the factory Corrective Action Plan. WSI has a rigorous zero tolerance policy and monitoring process to ensure there are no egregious human rights violations in our supplier factories. The audit results in a social rating, from A to D, based on the number and severity of the non-compliance items identified on site. This social grade allows us to benchmark factory performance, as well as measure factory improvement over time. Non-performing ‘D’ factories are given ample time to support and improve, failing which an exit plan is executed. Factory grading is integrated into our vendor scorecards and business decisions and is intended to reward those partners with strongest performance, as well as protect our business from risk.
WSI’s audit program is founded on the continuous improvement philosophy, and our goal is to help suppliers understand the purpose of our requirements and to implement consistent and robust systems that will sustain their social performance. Our Code of Conduct also requires all suppliers to expect the same social compliance standards from their sub-suppliers.
Remediation & Continuous Improvement
We work with factories to develop Corrective Action Plans (CAP’s) based on audit findings and to support remediation. We have a dedicated team of corporate social responsibility experts in our major markets to work directly with factories on continuous improvements plans, supporting them to identify root causes to non-compliance, build time-bound action plans, and implement solutions that prevent recurrence and are validated through a timely follow-up audit. Beyond the audit process, we partner with suppliers to help build long-term management systems.
Beyond the audit process, we partner with suppliers to help build long-term management systems. Our vision of a best-in-class compliance program positions the management systems as a key component to create long-term working conditions improvement in our supply chains. Additionally, we invest in developing and delivering targeted training and capacity-building programs to our suppliers that directly address organizational priorities, such as factory health and safety. High standards in our labor practice align with our company values and contribute to a strong and resilient supply chain. Our social compliance programs and progress are subject to oversight by our Board of Directors. And we train factories around our third-party monitored enterprise-wide ethics hotline to ensure transparency while protecting anonymity.
Further, we go beyond compliance to develop and implement industry-leading initiatives that improve the lives of workers. We were the first home retailer to bring Fair Trade USA®’s factory certification program into the home sector. We were the founding partner with nonprofit Nest on its Ethical Handcraft Program to bring transparency to artisanal supply chains and the first retailer to feature the Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft on products.
Fair Trade Certified™
When you see a product with the Fair Trade Certified™ seal, you can be sure it was made according to rigorous social, environmental and economic standards. Fair Trade USA® works closely on the ground with producers and certifies transactions between companies and their suppliers to ensure that the people making Fair Trade Certified™ goods work in safe conditions, protect the environment, build sustainable livelihoods, and earn additional money to empower and uplift their communities.
One of the most important aspects of Fair Trade is its ability to help realize economic empowerment in global communities and improve workers’ quality of life through the program’s community development fund. Not only must Fair Trade Certified™ factories meet rigorous social and environmental criteria, but workers in those factories gain access to additional financial benefits through the premiums earned from each Fair Trade Certified™ purchase. Premiums received from the sale of Fair Trade Certified™ products are pooled into the program’s community development fund, and workers vote together on how to spend these funds to address pressing needs in their community such as water filtration, health clinics, access to affordable and healthy foods, and transportation.
WSI has partnered with Fair Trade USA®, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America, since 2014. As the first global home retailer to partner with the organization, to date, we contributed $7 million in Fair Trade premiums to workers across our family of brands. This exceeds the company’s goal, announced in 2017 to reach $3 million in premiums paid to workers by 2020. We now sell over 5,600 Fair Trade Certified™ products across all our brands—from furniture and rugs at Pottery Barn to bedding at Rejuvenation to signature furniture collections at West Elm. We have also grown our Fair Trade Certified™ footprint to 16 factories in five countries, impacting over 13,000 workers.
Nest Ethical Handcraft
Nest is a nonprofit dedicated to building a new handworker economy to generate global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing beyond factories, and preserve cultural traditions of craft. It recognizes that while the fashion and home industry’s home-based labor force represents an enormous global population, these workers, who are predominantly women, have been largely overlooked and underserved.
The Nest Ethical Handcraft Program, which launched in December 2017, stands to revolutionize the retail industry by making home and small workshop-based labor a safe and viable option. Measuring compliance across a matrix of more than 100 Standards, the training-first program is tailored to address the wide degree of variation in decentralized supply chains. The program stands apart for its dedication to cultural sensitivity and handworker ownership in decision-making. Nest works hand-in-hand with the handworker business, empowering them to draw from their experience and expertise in order to develop processes that have the greatest likelihood of adoption while still conforming to the Nest Standards.
Our long-term partnership with Nest—initially through our West Elm brand—has persisted from the conception of the Standards program in 2014 to our participation as a Steering Committee member during the assessment period, through the Standards’ launch in 2017 and the subsequent Seal of Ethical Handcraft launch in December 2018. The Seal itself is “a symbol of assurance letting consumers know that the items they shop, from fashion to furniture, have been ethically handcrafted in a home or small workshop.”