Ethical Apparel Index (EAI)

A research project aimed at supporting the development of a transparency mechanism to promote ethical production in global apparel supply chains

About the Project

Unethical working conditions among apparel supply chains have been a challenge for brands’ pursuit of corporate social responsibility (CSR) for several decades. This dysfunctional state of affairs is responsible for modern slavery conditions for workers, opportunity loss for factory owners, reputational risk for brands and confusion among consumers who increasingly seek products that are produced ethically.

The goal of this project is to undertake research that will support the development of a transparency mechanism to promote ethical production in global apparel supply chains, by rewarding stakeholders that uphold the ethical treatment of workers in factories. This mechanism is a communication-based tool referred to as the Ethical Apparel Index (EAI) – which will serve as an objective indicator of fair labor standards and working conditions in apparel factories that can be effectively communicated to consumers and additional supply chain stakeholders (i.e., brands and investors).  These conditions are largely defined by the primary conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO) labor standards. [1]

In our research, we propose that to develop an index that summarizes indicators of forced labor and slavery in factories, violations of minimum and living wages, standard building safety and housing conditions, and freedom of association.  The index will not encompass environmental stewardship, but focuses only on wage equality, ethical treatment of workers, workplace safety, and reasonable hours of work within apparel factory workplaces. Our analytical framework will rely on existing data that illustrates factory conditions, producing a simple and objective indicator, allowing consumers to exercise informed ethical buying behavior in the apparel market.

This website will provide an update on our work, and keep the public and our stakeholders informed of our progress.

[1] https://www.ilo.org/global/standards/introduction-to-international-labour-standards/conventions-and-recommendations/lang–en/index.htm

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Questions

For questions about this project, please contact Balaji Soundararajan at bisounda@ncsu.edu.