Our Current Stories on Protecting Human Rights
Social Responsibility in Manufacturing
Day in the Life: Protecting Workers
Our commitment to safe, fair and healthy workplaces extends beyond our stores and into the factories where our products are made. Nordstrom Program Manager Fachon Perry travels the globe to help protect factory workers' rights.
A part of the Nordstrom Social Responsibility program for nine years, Fachon describes a "typical" day on the job—in this case, it's a trip to China to inspect factories that manufacture Nordstrom brand products. Fachon inspects working conditions and meets with workers and management to ensure factories adhere to Nordstrom's Partnership Guidelines. The guidelines outline requirements for our vendors around employment practices, workers' rights, environmental standards and work environments.
"I am excited that I'm making a difference in a worker's life and in their community—knowing I am helping to ensure workers are paid legal wages, not working excessive hours, and have access to clean food and water," said Fachon. "But I am also aware that there are thousands of other workers who don't benefit from this type of monitoring."
Eyes wide open
To perform these inspections in China, Fachon travels over 18 hours from her Seattle base. "I've been doing this for several years, but I'm always filled with excitement," she said. Fachon is picked up at 7am and taken on a three-hour ferry ride. She then travels another hour by car to the factory.
Once she arrives at the factory, Fachon starts her tour. "I walk through the toilets to see if there is running water, toilet paper, or towels. The toilets aren't like ours, with running water to flush away waste, but there needs to be some system in place to keep them sanitary." In addition to the toilets, Fachon tours the dormitories where factory workers sleep, and the "canteen" or cafeteria.
"I tour the dormitories to ensure there are enough beds, without overcrowding," Fachon explained. "I also review the canteen and the food being served to make sure the workers are getting clean, quality food."
Working toward change
Fachon interviews factory workers to get a better understanding of the hours they're working and other issues, such as morale, wages and pay and harassment, which she will eventually discuss with the factory's management.
Compliance, Fachon explains, isn't always a black and white issue. "Many factory managers care about their workers, but are just unsure how to comply with their country's labor laws and meet the sometimes conflicting standards of their clients."
When Fachon returns from her trip, she will continue to engage with factory management. "I will work closely with management on improvement plans to ensure that the workers receive their legal wages and time off and are treated with the same dignity and respect we all want to receive."
While her work is tiring and challenging, Fachon is hopeful. "These trips, while intended for the benefit of the factory workers, have given me something, too. They have made me so appreciative of what I have and feel so fortunate to be a small part in making their lives better."
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