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'Social Responsibility Is Embedded Deeply In DNA Of Every Employee'
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Roberto Taiariol, Global CSR Head and Chief Audit Executive of Benetton Group and Sundeep Chugh, CEO of Benetton India discuss the CSR initiatives of Benetton, vision of sustainability and sustainability practices incorporated by them within the organisation
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In a world increasingly fraught with environmental and social challenges, it is upon every industry to do their bit to reduce environmental impact, and achieve the triple bottom-line effect of the environmental, social and economic progress of the overall society. The textile and fashion industry too, in addition to CSR compliance norms, have to go a step further and inculcate a culture of sustainability within the organisation, and do their two-cents for the greater good of society, while reducing ecological impact.
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Roberto Taiariol, Global CSR Head and Chief Audit Executive of Benetton Group and Sundeep Chugh, CEO of Benetton India discuss the CSR initiatives of Benetton, their vision of sustainability and sustainability practices incorporated by them within the organization and sustainability measures geared towards their product quality.
How are sustainability practices integrated into the supply chain for the life-cycle of the products at Benetton?
Chugh: For us, sustainability is something across the entire value chain. When we look at our value chain, right from the fabric sourcing to converting it into finished garments, the entire process is constantly monitored and evaluated. Better Cotton Initiative is one of the initiatives we have taken.
Taiariol: Better Cotton Initiative has the aim to provide sustainable cotton, with the finer aim to help farmers get a good price.
Chugh: There has been a lot of talk about organic cotton, so what we’re looking at is not only organic cotton but a level above organic cotton like Better Cotton Initiative. So the idea is to constantly keep evolving the value chain, so the sustainability aspect can be looked into and evolved with time. For us, sustainability is something which is oriented towards creating a bright future. We keep introspecting, we keep looking at the possible avenues which are there to cater to sustainability requirements and are evolved in a periodic manner. So you will see a constant evolution on this side because the world is dynamic, it is constantly changing, as you can see one invention happening today, and some other happening tomorrow, so you have to keep innovating your value chain as you are creating yourself as a sustainable organisation. When you look at the history of Benetton, Benetton as a brand has always been a socially responsible brand. And social responsibility has been one of the key pillars of the brand.
Are there any other sustainability initiatives or projects you would like to talk about?
Chugh: We have looked into the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and women empowerment is Sustainable Development goal number 5. When it comes to driving the rights of women and girls around the world, Benetton would be playing a very active role there. When it comes to communication, we have our first campaign, United by Don’ts which again comes under women empowerment, which we did last year, and then the United by Half campaign this year.
How is a corporate culture of sustainability instituted within the organisation?
Chugh: So we look at the employees, where they volunteer and we at least ensure that together as an organisation, we contribute close to 2000+ hours. An initiative could be anything from visiting slums to distribute garments there, or having a lunch in a school, or celebrating a birthday of a kid somewhere. When you look at the history of Benetton, the brand believes in growing business by ensuring that the society also grows. So social responsibility aspect is very deeply embedded in the DNA of each and every employee.
What is the methodology used to measure the compliance of sustainability in the organisational supply chain?
Taiariol: For the supply chain, we issue a Code of Conduct for the manufacturers that encompass the most important principles issued by the International Labour Organization. Then best practices for safe work in the factories, then we provide a checklist that is audited by an independent party. We share with all subsidiaries including India, there is a rank where we check more than 120 possible situations, and we need a higher rank in order to be accepted by Benetton. If a manufacturer is not able to reach it, we don’t exclude but we work rather closely with them to improve their ranking. Benetton India also uses the same methodology. Sustainability can be divided into three main approaches. First is the supply chain, this has a continuous monitoring with a follow-up yearly or six months. Then the product tests on the water and the finished products, and finally, some engagement and relationship building with institutions like EU, the UN and so on.