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Comment: Let transparency be your watchword

Christina Simone

When it comes to disclosing supply chain information, pension deficits, or snap elections, transparency – openness and clarity – is key

Four years ago, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed more than 1,000 workers. Since then, campaigners have called on retailers and brands to confront supply chain issues. Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index rates them on how they are progressing towards this important goal.

Committing to greater transparency in this area of your business should not have to be demanded. It should be done freely, in the knowledge of the fact that protecting workers and maintaining their well-being and safety in the workplace is basic human decency.

Protecting workers and maintaining their well-being is basic human decency.

The often-repeated statistic that fashion is the “second most-polluting industry” after oil is not easily verified, but we know that fashion pollutes. Publishing environmental policies and practices is only the initial step to reducing the harm. Regular progress reporting will hopefully ensure that people and the environment are protected.

This week also marks a year since BHS collapsed. Inexperienced leadership, a lack of strategic innovation and a competitive retail environment put pressure on the department store, which wound up with a pension deficit of £571m after a buyer could not be found.

MPs have previously argued that the UK’s biggest private entities and those with large pension schemes should have to abide by the same financial reporting rules as publicly listed companies, to ensure the fallout from the collapse of BHS is not repeated.

In pensions, safety and green issues, what transparency does is encourage accountability. This, in turn, should lead to a greater understanding of where to focus on fixing problems that arise.

Seeking to establish her accountability in the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May has set a snap election set for 8 June. Uncertainty has been the name of the game for some time and, for fashion retail, the effects of this vote may take time to decipher. But if she wins, one thing is clear: Theresa May will have certainty that the country wants her to lead it.

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