If you haven’t heard about this, especially one year after the fact, it’s quite a shell you’ve been living in.
Date: April 24, 2013 Known as: The deadliest garment factory accident in history Death Toll: 1,100+ deaths, Approx. 2,500+ injured. More than half were women. Location: Dhaka, Bangladesh Major Brand Association: Joe Fresh, Mango, etc… What? Illegally built floors, factory owners ignored building cracks (lack of structural integrity of the building). The workers, who were concerned, were given the option of doing their job (which is their life) or be withheld a month’s pay.
There has been a ton of coverage on the topic and good coverage so i won’t talk too much detail into the accident itself.
This event is the reason why I’m much drawn into the concept of ethical sourcing. It occurred two days after I started my new job in the governance field. Never had I have such an event open my eyes and change the way I thought about my clothes, in particular. There are many things that are particularly frustrating when I’m reading articles on this topic though. In response to this accident, companies have stepped up to either join The Bangladesh Accord or The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety. It is now a seemingly battle between the two (although the overall concept is relatively the same – a better lifestyle and way of doing business). I find a lot of people also argue pro for one and not the other. There isn’t a “good” or “bad” Have we already forgotten where we started off? We had nothing. We had nobody caring, nobody understood and we had a lack of funding to create change for the better. In these scenarios, does it really matter how different one wants to address their concerns and provide solutions if it all leads to the greater good?
The Economist article has it correct, stating, “A transatlantic divide among big companies may hinder efforts to improve workers’ safety in Bangladesh”
To each their own – we are all accountable and it’s great that companies are stepping up and placing their names out there. We hardly ever question any other companies that have no involvement. Transparency definitely comes at a cost of constant scrutinizing by those who believe they can do better. I say to them, “one step at a time”. Of course we want instantaneous change but we are dealing with a large scale, global and economical change in the way business operates and the lifestyles of others. When it comes to thinking businesses are being “shady” with who they’re aligning themselves with, remember that they are also getting their products from some other factory – they probably have changed the way they do their business. This accident was the splash or even smack to the faces, what happens afterwards are the ripples. Let it keep resonating and be a push for change.
To Ponder on: If we’re all aiming for a common good but in different methods, is it all that wrong? Photo source: The Guardian, 2014