The Ethical Electronics Guide will empower you to purchase ethically. This guide shows how 39 electronics companies rate for their efforts to prevent worker exploitation with 2 simple pieces of information you need to know before buying your next gadget:
- The overall grades companies receive in The Electronics Report, and
- Whether the brand guarantees that workers receive a living wage.
Behind the Barcode FAQ
What is Behind the Barcode?
Behind the Barcode is a series of industry reports seeking to empower consumers to purchase ethically, and by doing so, encourage companies to ensure workers are protected and not harmed, that they are rewarded, not exploited and that they work free from the tyranny of modern slavery. The guides grade 128 fashion brands and 39 electronics companies operating in Australia, and assess the systems they have in place to protect the workers in their supply chain from exploitation, forced labour and child labour.
How are companies ranked?
The guides look at two key issues:
- Whether companies are paying their workers a living wage
- The grades indicate the extent to which a company has traced its suppliers and established systems throughout its supply chain that can enable it to prevent and address worker exploitation and slavery. Each brand is graded from A+ to F based on the efforts it has taken to prevent worker exploitation.
What do the grades represent?
An overall grade of the labour rights management systems that companies have in place. These grades are derived from research undertaken by Free2Work and Baptist World Aid Australia and published in The Australian Fashion Report and The Electronics Report. The International Labor Rights Forum has also been an advisor on this project. In assessing a company, we ask a set of 61 questions about its production policies and practices. Our assessment questions concern a company’s management of raw materials, inputs and cut-make trim manufacturing, and fall into four categories:
- POLICIES: We evaluate the brand’s code of conduct, sourcing and subcontracting policies, and involvement with other organisations working to combat child and forced labour.
- TRACEABILITY & TRANSPARENCY: We look at how thoroughly the brand understands its own supply chain, and whether it discloses critical information to the public.
- MONITORING & TRAINING: We measure the adequacy of the brand’s monitoring program to address the specific issues of child and forced labour.
- WORKER RIGHTS: We assess the degree to which the brand supports worker well-being by ensuring that workers are able to claim their rights at work through organising, and whether workers earn a living wage
How should I use the guide?
We hope that you take this little guide with you when you go shopping to empower you to make everyday ethical purchasing decisions. If a brand you’re considering buying from receives a relatively high grade overall, but doesn’t pay workers a living wage, it is up to you how you use this information to inform your purchasing decisions. Either way, we would encourage you to email the company directly informing them that you are a customer and would like to see them guarantee the workers who make their products are paid a living wage.
How do companies earn a tick for paying a living wage?
We ask companies for evidence that they are paying workers a living wage. A living wage is defined as a wage sufficient to support all the basic needs of a worker and his or her dependents with some money left over for discretionary spending and saving for emergencies. This amount varies between country and city. The legal minimum wage in many countries is not sufficient for all basic needs and leaves many workers on poverty level income.
Many companies have a minimum wage policy which acknowledges the importance of paying a living wage, but credit in our grades has only been awarded to companies which provided additional evidence, in the form of an audit report.
Why do you ask fashion companies to boycott Uzbekistani cotton?
It has been widely reported by a large number of labour rights activists that Uzbekistani cotton is harvested by tens of thousands of children. The profits are kept by individuals within the government leaving farmers and children with little. See more about this issue on our website here https://baptistworldaid.org.au/get-involved/be-vocal/fashion-victims/
If a company receives a cross, have they sourced cotton from Uzbekistan?
No, we are not claiming that they source from Uzbekistan. We simply do not have data on that. Brands marked with a cross in the third column have failed to take substantial steps to avoid the use of Uzbekistani cotton.
What steps does a fashion brand have to do to receive a grade for boycotting Uzbek cotton?
The third column represents whether companies have committed to not use Uzbekistani cotton. Companies marked with a cross here are not necessarily using cotton from this country, but have not taken substantial steps to avoid its use in their supply chains. The companies marked with a tick have taken steps in one of the following four ways:
- Provided a public commitment by signing the Cotton Pledge with the Responsible Sourcing Network. The full list of companies which have signed this pledge may be viewed at www.sourcingnetwork.org/the-cotton-pledge/
- The company has provided Baptist World Aid Australia or Stop the Traffik with a commitment to not knowingly use cotton sourced from Uzbekistan, along with confirmation that they have communicated this commitment to their suppliers, and have undertaken audits to enforce this commitment.
- The company has provided a public commitment to not knowingly use cotton sourced from Uzbekistan, or
- The company has traced the origins of 100% of their cotton supply chain
Fair trade clothing brands receive the highest grades in your fashion report. Are there other fair trade clothing brands in Australia?
Find fair trade brands at http://search.fairtrade.com.au/
The Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand also produces a Fair Trade Shopping Guide which you can order directly from them.
Is the Australian Fashion Report or the Electronics Industry Trends Report available in other languages?
We are currently working on producing a Japanese translation for the Electronics Industry Trends Report. If you are interested in recieving this translation, please email Claire.Cremen@baptistworldaid.org.au