guest commentary

In the collective to higher standards

Juliane Reinecke, King's College London

Issue 81 - May | June 2019

Juliane Reinecke, Professor of International Management and Sustainability at King's College London
Juliane Reinecke, Professor of International Management and Sustainability at King's College in London

This year marks the misfortune of Rana Plaza for the sixth time. The tragedy that killed 1.100 workers at a textile factory in Bangladesh once again demonstrated that in global value chains, the good will and even codes of conduct of individual companies are not enough to ensure good working conditions for suppliers. Since then, promising solutions have been tested to achieve fundamental improvements. One example is the Bangladesh Agreement, in which more than 200 companies have voluntarily imposed higher standards of building safety and fire safety. In a short time, the initiative has achieved a lot: numerous safety inspections and renovations have been carried out and the number of fatal accidents has been significantly reduced. 

What can be learned from it? Pooling companies can pool resources and finance quality audits, and greater leverage will sanction suppliers more effectively in the event of non-compliance. Thus, in spite of non-state regulation, the collective creates a level playing field for all market participants - with results that an individual alone could not achieve.

Photo: Reinecke