Responsible Sourcing FAQs
What is VF’s Responsible Sourcing program?
Responsible Sourcing is a collection of initiatives throughout VF’s global supply chain that aim to improve the lives of workers making VF products, the communities where our company operates and the global environment we all share. To achieve this, we are demanding higher standards and performance, from a social and environmental perspective, from VF’s contract suppliers around the world. We are partnering more closely with our suppliers to share the manufacturing knowledge we’ve amassed over our 116 years in business to help them improve their operations and implement practices that respect people and the planet.
Why did VF decide to create the Responsible Sourcing program?
The global apparel industry presents many challenges. VF’s global scale, combined with our commitment to social and environmental responsibility, brings with it the responsibility to improve the lives of millions of people who contribute to the production of our products. Responsible Sourcing underpins our aim to lead the industry toward a better future.
Is there a time frame for the program or is it ongoing?
Responsible Sourcing provides the framework for how we manage our global supply chain and supplier relationships on an ongoing basis. The program builds on our legacy as a leader in manufacturing and guides VF and our suppliers toward a more sustainable future. We are still in the early stages of many aspects of the program, but we will grow them and add to them over time.
How is Responsible Sourcing different from the way VF managed its supplier relationships previously?
With Responsible Sourcing, VF is working to transform the buyer/supplier relationship to a true business partnership focused on collaboration and mutual success. We expect our sourcing partners to share our core values and meet our high standards so they can amplify the positive impact the Responsible Sourcing program has on people, the environment and communities around the world. We want to help our suppliers be better factories.
Did VF work with any outside organizations and experts to help develop the program?
Yes. VF engaged with a number of outside experts from non-profits, labor, NGOs and academia to obtain their advice and counsel on the Responsible Sourcing strategy and programs. Many of these experts remain involved through the Responsible Sourcing Advisory Council, which helps to provide direction for VF’s initiatives.
What are the metrics used to determine the program’s success?
VF uses a wide range of metrics to assess the progress of individual projects and the Responsible Sourcing program at large. Some of the metrics include, but are not limited to: rate of acceptance for contract suppliers; reduction of Critical Life Safety risks throughout VF’s network of suppliers; energy reduction progress at supplier factories; water efficiency and quality at supplier factories; ongoing reduction in the rate of product failures; the amount of sustainably grown cotton used in VF’s products globally; and, CHEM-IQSM performance by factory.
Does Responsible Sourcing make it more difficult for suppliers to work with VF?
Yes. The standards and expectations set forth by Responsible Sourcing require VF’s supplier factories to go beyond industry norms. Because of this, VF recognizes that factories in certain global regions may face unique challenges in meeting these standards. In some cases, our Sustainable Operations Team assists these factories with advice, management system tools, and training to help them positively transform their operations.
With such a large network of suppliers around the globe, how can you ensure that these factories are compliant with your principles or are actually making the improvements required?
VF goes to great lengths to ensure that supplier factories comply with our Global Compliance Principles and our Terms of Engagement. Our Compliance Team regularly conducts unannounced audits and thorough on-site inspections to gauge the status of these factories and assess their progress.
What happens if a supplier is unable to meet VF’s standards and expectations?
VF’s audit process includes four ratings:
- Accepted: No serious safety, health or labor-related issues. Certified to produce VF products.
- Developmental: Some major safety, health or labor-related issues. Authorized to produce VF-branded products, but must be corrected in a timely manner as assessed and defined by follow-up factory audits.
- Pending Rejection: Persistent and major safety, health or labor-related issues. May be authorized to produce VF-branded products, but must substantially remediate any open issues within specified time frames as assessed and defined by follow-up factory audits.
- Rejected: Persistent and major safety, health or labor-related issues that the supplier has failed to remediate over the course of follow-up audits. Not authorized to produce VF-branded products.
How many factories does VF own and operate?
VF owns and operates 24 factories. These facilities, most of which are located in Mexico and Central America, employ more than 20,000 people and account for 23% of VF’s total production.
How many contract supplier factories does VF use globally?
A by-country list of VF-owned and direct sourced, Tier 1 supplier factories can be viewed here. Updated quarterly, this list fluctuates over time to reflect the seasonality of VF’s business and corresponding production. All factories must meet VF’s strict standards and adhere to our Global Compliance Principles. VF’s Tier 1 supplier factory list does not include licensee and sub-contractor factories or Tier 2 material suppliers.