Dear CEO, Helena Helmersson and H&M,
I am writing to you regarding the ethics and sustainability of your products and overall brand. After looking at your website I see there is a lack of clarity regarding many aspects of your brand.
You say that you ‘collaborate with over 800 independent suppliers’ who ‘may use other factories they don’t own. Yes, your direct suppliers may sign your ‘strict Sustainability Commitment’ however, factories they outsource to are not required to do so and could easily be ignoring ethical standards, not paying living wage, or have bad working conditions. For example, by 2018 you promised to pay some 850,000 garment makers a living wage, a promise that you failed to keep. Also in 2018, you received hundreds of complaints from your factory workers about incidents of threats and abuse within a 5-month period from 5 countries. They claim to be set hugely unrealistic targets, which if not met, cause employees, especially females, to be beaten or punched or called racial slurs.
This is unacceptable. You need to make a change.
As your direct supplier is ‘sustainable’ or ethical, even if the factories they outsource to are not, you happily claim to be so also. You are greenwashing your practises to maximise profits and better your brand reputation as being sustainable and fair – this is deception and greatly unfair to your customers and employees.
In addition, many of your products lack transparency. You say that is because they were made before your ‘new transparency system’ but is that true? As a potential customer I would look at that and think you know that products origin and life cycle would be frowned upon, so you did not include any information to avoid backlash, is this how you want to be represented? Customers cannot trust the information you put out if you refuse to release information on certain aspects of your brand.
You may be trying to reduce your impacts by setting up a recycling scheme, but this is not enough. I do not believe you will reach your goals to reduce your green-house gas emissions by 2030 or will be using 100% recycled or sustainable material by 2030 unless you make a huge change now. Becoming a sustainable brand is entirely possible, and will be hugely beneficial for both your brand, the environment, and your workers, in the long term.
I hope you take my letter into consideration and begin to better your practises. I believe you know entirely what you are doing wrong but are choosing to ignore it. You have the facilities, research teams, and materials readily available to help you become sustainable, and the customers will not need much convincing. So start now and make a difference.