Our Current Stories on Protecting Human Rights
Social Responsibility in Manufacturing
Audits Hold Vendors to High Standards
One part of the Nordstrom commitment to conducting responsible business is ensuring our manufacturers' environmental footprints are in line with our Nordstrom Partnership Guidelines, which detail, among other things, our requirements around environmental standards for our vendors. One of the ways we monitor that footprint is through Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) inspections.
EHS audits are designed to identify and help address current environmental practices at the factory level, such as chemical management and electrical safety. In 2010, Nordstrom kicked off our EHS program by identifying two contracted facilities in China for our first EHS inspections.
"These first audits were extremely beneficial. The results helped us and our two manufacturers learn about possible risks as well as what we can do about them." —Anthony Curtis, Nordstrom Product Group social responsibility program manager"Our goal was to choose manufacturers that have long-term relationships with Nordstrom and produce a high volume of merchandise," said Anthony Curtis, social responsibility program manager for Nordstrom Product Group. "We also wanted to work with manufactures whose production processes might include higher risk elements, such as chemicals and dyes."
Based on these factors, the team chose a footwear factory and an accessories factory to participate in the EHS process.
Inspections, Reviews and Interviews
The EHS audits include three components: a physical inspection of the plant, a documentation review, and employee interviews. During the physical inspection, the auditor tours the factory checking for hazards, such as high noise areas where employees should have protective gear for their ears. The documentation review includes checking for any required registrations and government certifications. Interviews help to ensure that factory employees also have an opportunity to describe how health and safety is managed on a daily basis. The auditors then tally the results of the three components and develop a report and recommendations to review with the factory.
Reviewing the results of the inspections with the factories helps further open a dialogue between Nordstrom and the manufacturing partners about health and safety impacts on factory workers and the communities where we operate. In the case of the footwear and accessories factories, the EHS audits were very informative.
"These first audits were extremely beneficial," said Anthony. "The results helped us and our two manufacturers learn about possible risks as well as what we can do about them, and the goal is for the factories to incorporate best practices that will jumpstart their environmental health and safety management system."
In 2011, the EHS monitoring program will be expanded to India to help identify ways in which Nordstrom can better serve our factory base on issues relating to chemical management, waste water treatment and recycling as well.
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