Our Current Stories on Protecting Human Rights

Social Responsiblity in Manufacturing

Creating Partnerships On the Ground

Creating Partnerships On the Ground
Nordstrom realizes that our goal to protect workers' rights is most effective when we create personal relationships on the ground with factories and their employees. But with our Nordstrom private label products being produced in nearly 40 countries, that is a big task for a relatively small, mostly Seattle-based team.

To help streamline operations and assist our Seattle-based Nordstrom Product Group (NPG) Social Responsibility team in Asia, in 2010 Nordstrom added an on-the-ground presence, regional social responsibility program manager Gladys Chu based in Hong Kong.

"Gladys has been absolutely instrumental in representing Nordstrom in Asia," says Jill Kiley, director of NPG Operations Support Group. "She's built strong relationships with our factories that allow them to be comfortable and transparent with us. She's also helped bring factories on board with our social development projects, ensuring that when we're developing programs we're doing it in a way that makes sense for them. Her presence has made a huge difference."

"Gladys has built strong relationships that allow factories to be comfortable and transparent with us."
- Jill Kiley, Nordstrom Product Group

Nordstrom Cares recently connected with Gladys to learn more about her role in helping Nordstrom's Social Responsibility efforts overseas.

What's your current role?

I work directly with our contracted factories that produce Nordstrom-labeled product. My role includes training and project support to ensure the factories we work with are meeting our expectations to provide a safe, healthy and fair work environment.

How much territory do you cover?

I work with roughly 200 factories, directly and indirectly. Currently, I work with our U.S.-based program managers to oversee the China and Hong Kong factories. I've been to factories in Cambodia, Indonesia, India, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and others.

What challenges lie ahead?

Our biggest challenge remains helping our factory partners understand the importance of social development projects. Our goal is to partner with the factories to give them access and awareness to the projects, and for them to ultimately own them.

Why should Nordstrom employees care about our human rights efforts overseas?

Nordstrom cares about people -- its customers, employees and the people who make the products we sell. Because we source Nordstrom-labeled product globally, we have a direct and indirect impact on the lives of workers making our products. We believe it is our responsibility to extend our support of human rights for all people supporting our company.

What's something about your job that would surprise us here in the States?

Some of the most surprising moments in my job come from seeing first-hand how different yet similar we all are no matter what country I am working in. We may have different languages and cultures, but ultimately we all have the same goal of health, happiness and success.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing a smile of satisfaction from the workers! I enjoy that it's our job to make positive changes in factory conditions and work toward continuous improvement.

Creating Partnerships On the Ground

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