All countries have unique and complex labour and human rights challenges, and these challenges are impossible for a single brand to tackle through an audit program alone. Organizations like the Fair Labor Association (FLA) create a collaborative way to dig into regional issues and violations, which leads to building effective solutions to address systemic problems.
The FLA has helped improve the lives of millions of workers, and will continue to help many more thanks to its ongoing programs. It’s a group effort of socially responsible businesses, universities and civil society organizations with the shared goal to protect workers’ rights. MEC supports the FLA’s mission by participating in the development and implementation of labour standards in our factories.
MEC Label has been part of FLA since 2005. We’re one of only two Canadian brands to have our social responsibility program accredited, which is the highest level of membership an organization can achieve through the FLA. Other brands we carry, like Patagonia, Nike and Prana, also have accredited social responsibility programs. MEC’s FLA reports on factory conditions and remediation progress are publicly available.
Why is MEC part of the Fair Labor Association?
Being part of the FLA gives MEC access to innovative and sustainable strategies, resources and training; it also gives us a voice to help set and implement industry standards in supply chain social responsibility. The accreditation process is a way to keep MEC accountable to members by holding our social responsibility program to ambitious standards. When we make MEC Label products, we want to ensure the respect and dignity of all employees throughout our supply chain.
The FLA assesses MEC on the fulfillment of the principles of fair labour and responsible sourcing and production, which includes:
- Commitment from top management to adopt and communicate workplace standards
- Responsible purchasing, planning and business practices
- Training staff to assess and remediate labour violations
- Formal audits of factories
- Providing workers with confidential reporting channels
- Engaging with civil society organizations to improve workers’ livelihood
The FLA’s transparent reports give MEC members assurance about where and how MEC Label products are made, and holds us accountable to our social responsibility program. Each year, the FLA randomly selects factories in the MEC Label supply chain to audit; MEC also does an annual self-assessment as part of our membership requirements with the FLA. Along with all the audits and accreditation, the Fair Labor Association offers a third-party perspective and supports MEC as we drive toward the highest standards for protecting human rights throughout our supply chain.
Next steps with FLA
MEC’s social responsibility program first received accreditation with the FLA in 2013 and we were reaccredited in 2016; the reaccreditation process generally happens every three years (dates may shift slightly depending on the FLA’s availability). With each reaccreditation, MEC receives reports that identify ways our social responsibly program can keep improving. The reports also recognize innovative and best practices MEC has accomplished to remediate labour violations and improve factory conditions.
Finding ways to make our sourcing strategies better is something we’re always working on, and the recommendations from the FLA give us areas to focus on. As always, we want to provide members with high-quality products made in a way that respects the people who manufacture them.