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Stories of Impact Podcast: Ethical Apparel with Dr. Robert Handfield and Dr. MD Rejaul Hasan

Tavia Gilbert: Welcome to Stories of Impact. I’m your host, Tavia Gilbert, and along with journalist Richard Sergay, every first and third Tuesday of the month, we share conversations about the art and science of human flourishing.
Only one week remains before the midterm elections in the United States. Before I vote on November 8, I have some homework to do, so that I can be sure to make informed and ethical choices in who I support. I know that the impact of my seemingly small choice will actually be significant — each of our choices will be.
And that’s what today’s story is all about — the impact we can have when we make informed, ethical choices. At the end of this episode, you’ll understand how much impact our informed and ethical choices as consumers in the West can have in the lives of apparel laborers in the East.
Let’s start with your first encounter with a worker thousands of miles away. It’s when you buy apparel — a sweatshirt or a dress or a pair or shoes — in a store after it’s worked its way through a massive global supply chain.

Robert Handfield: A supply chain is a series of enterprises that work together to create a product or service, and each enterprise adds value at each stage of the supply chain. Ultimately, you know, as a consumer, we don’t think about supply chains. You know, we’ll click a button on Amazon and it’ll show up at our door. But there’s a whole series of entities, manufacturers, transportation providers, distributors,
suppliers, and ultimately workers, who transform that product into something that the consumer will eventually buy.
My name is Robert Handfield, I’m a Bank of America professor of Supply Chain Management at North Carolina State University. I’ve been studying supply chains for about 35 years. They’re constantly changing. They’re constantly morphing, and you know, those supply chains have, they’ve been around for centuries. The Chinese were the first to really develop supply chains on the Silk Road.

Tavia Gilbert: For decades, experts across the globe have specialized in the study of supply chains. And in a time of accelerating globalization and information, there is a growing focus on the workers whose lives are most impacted by how ethical, or not, those who oversee supply chains, choose to be. Today, we’ll explore the concept of ethical apparel with two of those experts — researchers who are creating a way to give consumers valuable information about how the workers who are making those dresses and sweatshirts and shoes are being treated…

Listen to the full podcast episode here.