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SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Karen Walker is a design company. Our aim is to create beautiful and well-crafted items that will be loved and used for decades. We’re not interested in making lots of items. Just really well designed, well made items. Less and better. We’re niche, boutique and global and we seldom make more than 100 of any particular style of garment. We don’t want to fill your closets and your landfills with more “stuff”. We just want to make beautiful things you’ll love forever.

Our commitment to our social responsibility provides the foundation for all our business. Our core objectives in this respect are: to operate in a responsible and ethical manner in every sense and across all dimensions of our business and to commit to the sustainability of creating unique products that hold their intrinsic value, in the process ensuring we give back value to the environment, culture and communities in every place where our brand has a presence.

Our determination to pursue these aims is expressed in every platform of our corporate culture; in our relations with industry partners and with our contractors and suppliers all along our chain of production. We intend to continue our efforts in development of standards for community and human resources, responsible ethical sourcing and protection of the environment as a reflection of our ethical values. This is where the future of our business lies and we are unwavering in our dedication to establishing a gold standard across these key areas. This commitment to long-term, sustainable growth requires continuous and ongoing evaluation to improve our systems, taking responsibility for operating a business and maintaining a supply chain that respects the planet as well as those living on it.

OUR ETHICAL VALUES

Karen Walker's ethical values of responsibility, uniqueness, quality and connection, are at the heart of what we do.

Responsibility requires engagement with every stage of product creation, examining all our practices with suppliers and manufacturing partners.

Uniqueness, and the commitment to creative authenticity, has established our distinctive handwriting.

Quality, not just in the make and creation of our products but across all expressions of the brand from the retail experience through to back of house operations, is an ongoing commitment to our customers.

We commit to strong, open and honest connections with our community of customers, staff, brand partners, manufacturing partners and the general public. These connections are vital for the long-term relationships of our business, and we are committed to giving back to the communities that we work within.

CODE OF CONDUCT

We have established a clear and stringent Manufacturer's Agreement with a Code of Conduct for Social Compliance modelled on international human rights law.

This Code applies to all aspects of Karen Walker Group. Moreover, before any work is undertaken, all business partners, manufacturers and suppliers of finished goods, as well as cloth, and anyone who undertakes work on our behalf must read, agree to and sign the Agreement.

Our business partners, manufacturers and suppliers are required to respect, foster and promote the safety, dignity and freedom of their employees and to ensure their subcontractors, if applicable, do the same. See our detailed and complete Code of Conduct outlining our position on child labour, involuntary labour, disciplinary practices, discrimination, health and safety, environmental protection, workers' rights, compliance auditing and corrective action taken for violations of the Code at the end of this statement.

We strictly do not engage in work or place orders (including fabric) with partners, manufacturers or suppliers until they have signed the Code as this is a non-negotiable prerequisite for any supplier contracts.

OUR PEOPLE AND PARTNERS

The Karen Walker Group is based in Auckland, New Zealand. Our head office and design studio, with 29 staff members, is situated in Grey Lynn. We have a further 38 team members in our five boutiques and webstore in New Zealand.

All Karen Walker designs originate from our atelier in Grey Lynn. Every garment has been meticulously developed and crafted by our in-house team of designers, garment technicians, patternmakers and cutters, fabric specialists, print designers and seamstresses.

Once a garment’s design and construction is approved, it’s then passed along to our production managers who work closely with our ready-to-wear manufacturing partners in New Zealand and China.

Ready-to-wear Manufacturing Partners

We have six ready-to-wear (RTW) partners; two are based in Auckland, New Zealand and four are in China; in Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi and Zhuji. We have worked with five (83%) of our ready-to-wear partners for a minimum of six years each. We continue to have great working relationships with these suppliers; due to their quality craftsmanship, transparency and ongoing commitment to our high ethical standards. Our ready-to-wear partners are boutique-sized and have between one and 30 employees each. They’re well-suited to deliver our premium product and small runs (an average of 50 units per SKU) with meticulous attention to detail. Additionally, in 2018, approximately 17% of our ready-to-wear was produced in-house in our own atelier in Grey Lynn.

Further information about our partners:

RTW Partner 1

  • Location: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Number of years producing for KW: 19 years
  • Items produced: Dresses, pants, skirts and jackets
  • Number of permanent employees: 1 (1 female owner/operator)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 0
  • Size of workspace: Approx. 23 square metres

RTW Partner 2

  • Location: Auckland, New Zealand
  • Number of years producing for KW: 11 years
  • Items produced: Dresses, tops, jackets and coats
  • Number of permanent employees: 1 (1 female owner/operator)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 0
  • Size of workspace: Approx. 24 square metres

RTW Partner 3

  • Location: Shanghai, China
  • Number of years producing for KW: 10 years
  • Items produced: Shirts and dresses
  • Number of permanent employees: 5, consisting of 2 managers and 3 production members (60% female and 40% male)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 0
  • Size of workspace: 78 square metres
  • Date of last audit: October 24, 2018
  • Result of audit: Passed

RTW Partner 4

  • Location: Wuxi City, China
  • Number of years producing for KW: 9 years
  • Items produced: Knitwear, t-shirts and sweatshirts
  • Number of permanent employees: 30, consisting of 7 managers and 23 production members (83% female and 17% male)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 10 (3 female machinists, 2 male machinists and 5 male production staff for pressing/finishing)
  • Size of workspace: Approx. 500 square metres
  • Date of last audit: October 29, 2018
  • Result of audit: Passed with a 6-month corrective action plan in place for minor improvements

RTW Partner 5

  • Location: Zhuji City, China
  • Number of years producing for KW: 6 years
  • Items produced: Denim, suiting, coats and dresses
  • Number of permanent employees: 20, including 2 owners and 18 production members (85% female and 15% male)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 0
  • Size of workspace: Approx. 900 square metres
  • Date of last audit: October 27, 2018
  • Result of audit: Passed

RTW Partner 6

  • Location: Suzhou City, China
  • Number of years producing for KW: 11 months (since May 2018)
  • Items produced: Dresses, tops and pants
  • Number of permanent employees: 20, consisting of 2 managers and 18 production members (70% female and 30% male)
  • Number of temporary workers in 2018: 0
  • Size of workspace: Approx. 500 square metres
  • Date of last audit: October 26, 2018
  • Result of audit: Passed

Preferred Partners

In addition to the high quality work they produce, our preferred partners, who we continue to have great long-term relationships with, and choose to continue working with, are those with strong labour rights records and an unwavering commitment to fulfilling all requirements outlined in our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance. We have a high standard required of all our suppliers and over the past three years in particular, as part of our focus on building long-term relationships based on trust and transparency, we’ve been refining our ready-to-wear partners. We have ceased working with 4 suppliers who could not be 100% transparent with us or were not able to address issues identified in audits and prescribed in corrective action plans in a fair and timely manner. Alongside our own atelier in Auckland, New Zealand we now only work with the above 6 partners on our ready-to-wear manufacturing.

Subcontracting

None of our manufacturing is subcontracted by our partners to secondary manufacturers. Our manufacturing partners are fully committed to working with us in this way and understand completely the importance of keeping all work within their workrooms and with their staff. We have full faith in them that they will stand by their contractual obligations to us in this way. We have an independent, third-party, quality control manager based in China who works closely with all our ready-to-wear partners and visits each workspace 12-40 times per year. He monitors production of Karen Walker garments throughout the production process as well as final sign-off of completed garments. These inspections must, and always do, take place at our approved workrooms only. Subcontracting is also assessed and verified in our social audits performed by external agencies. If at any time, a RTW partner or fabric mill is considering subcontracting any of our work, the terms of our Manufacturing Agreement and contract would apply. The partner or fabric mill is prohibited from subcontracting our work without prior written consent from Karen Walker. Consent to subcontract will only be given after comprehensive due diligence, pass of an inspection audit by our chosen external agency and when all parties have demonstrated they meet, and will continue to uphold, our high standards. The subcontractor must also sign and agree to our Code of Conduct and associated policies prior to any work undertaken on our behalf.

Child Labor Free Accreditation

All our ready-to-wear manufacturing is Child Labor Free accredited.

Ordering and Lead Times

Developed in consultation with all our ready-to-wear partners, we have an Ordering and Lead Time Policy that ensures all teams have sufficient lead times so their employees do not need to work excessive hours to meet production deadlines. We also ensure our piece price allows for payment of a living wage to our partners’ employees. Recently, we have restructured the timing of our ranges to help limit pressure on our manufacturing partners during their busy periods and to provide work for them in their quieter periods. All our manufacturing partners have complete and up-to-date schedules around our four ready-to-wear collections including scheduled order dates, required shipping dates and planned range size in order for them to accurately predict their workflow and plan production space well in advance. Our Ordering and Lead Time Policy stipulates that all our ready-to-wear partners will have a minimum of four weeks of production time from receipt of fabric or approval of pre-production sample, whichever is the later. View the Policy here

Gender Equality

We do not tolerate gender-based discrimination. We are committed to gender equality across our supply chain, and work closely with our partners to ensure that this commitment has the necessary awareness and engagement by all those who work with us. We actively apply the principles from our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance to support all employees’ rights, including the achievement of gender equality. We have a clear strategy in place to promote gender equality and implement our Gender Equality Policy with all manufacturing partners. View our Gender Equality policy here.

Temporary/Migrant/Contract Workers

We monitor our ready-to-wear partners’ employment of temporary, contract and migrant workers. This is reviewed and verified every 18-24 months in our social audits. As verified above, 5 out of 6 of our partners did not have temporary, contract or migrant workers in 2018. 1 partner, in Wuxi City, China, employed 10 temporary workers in 2018 to support its permanent staff (30 employees) during busier periods. The 10 temporary workers employed were local residents (not migrant workers) and consisted of 3 female machinists, 2 male machinists and 5 male production staff for pressing/finishing.

Labour Brokers and Recruitment Fees

We monitor our ready-to-wear partners’ use of labour brokers and recruitment fees. This is tracked throughout the year and verified every 18-24 months through social audits. In 2018, none of our partners used labour brokers.

Collective Bargaining

As part of our Code of Conduct and Supplier Training program, we ensure that our ready-to-wear partners and their employees understand and are trained on their right to associate, organise and bargain collectively in a legal and peaceful manner. As our ready-to-wear partners are boutique-sized with 1-30 employees each, in 2018 no collective bargaining agreements are currently in place, or required, but the practice is supported.

Labour Rights Risks Assessment

Respect for labor rights, and human rights, is a fundamental part of conducting business and the basis for our ongoing relationship with our partners. In order to ensure labor rights are upheld we have undertaken a labour rights risk assessment for inputs and production stages of our supply chain, and in collaboration with our partners and external human rights experts, we have devised strategies to prevent, mitigate and remediate these risks and impacts. This assessment and its procedures are reviewed minimum twice per year. We continue to assess further opportunities and risks and implement learnings into our processes. A summary report of our labour rights risks assessment can be viewed here.

One of the ways we have implemented our labour rights risk assessment into our labour rights management systems is having in place a supplier-training program, facilitated by an Advanced level SA8000® Standard-qualified auditor, to educate our partners and their employees on labor rights and mitigating risks relating to child labour, forced labour, health and safety, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and remuneration. This facilitator is also our third-party QC manager who is frequently visiting our ready-to-wear partners in China, 12-40 times each per year.

To verify the stringency of our labour rights management systems and ability to prevent and mitigate risks, labour rights are also covered in-depth in our compliance audits conducted every 18-24 months against the SA8000® Standard. If an issue was to be found during audits, the auditing agency will provide recommendations in a corrective action plan, and along with our own remediation policies, we would work with the partner to remediate the issue in the most effective and timely way. Further information about our compliance auditing and supplier training can be found here.

As outlined in our partner information above, our manufacturers are based in New Zealand and China, and due to the nature of our product and premium small runs our partners are boutique-sized with 1-30 employees each. We can confirm our labour rights risks are on the lower end of the spectrum of the garment industry and if at any time an issue was to be found we would be in a position to action its remediation plan immediately.

RESPONSIBLE ETHICAL SOURCING

We are committed to creating unique products that are well designed, using the highest quality materials. These materials must align with our commitment to responsible ethical sourcing.

Respect for Animals

We do not use products that have been tested on animals. We use no angora, feathers or fur. We do not use any products that have been derived from endangered species. We do not use any products that have been derived from animals slaughtered exclusively for their skin, horns, bones, feathers or any other material. We acknowledge the occasional use of shearling as a by-product of farming in New Zealand. These pelts are meticulously sourced from a single supplier and are taken from naturally stillborn lambs.

Fabrics

Fabric for our ready-to-wear is sourced from New Zealand, China, Italy, France and Japan. We have traced all 8 fabric mills that currently supply fabric to us and we will continue to only work with fabric mills that are traceable, and transparent with us. We have worked with these fabric mills between 2-10 years each. They are our preferred suppliers, due to the quality of their fabrics, their strong labour rights records and commitment to complying with our stringent Code of Conduct for Social Compliance.

All our fabric mills have signed our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance and are required to respect, foster and promote the safety, dignity and freedom of their employees and to ensure their subcontractors do the same. We do not place orders with fabric suppliers until they have signed the Code as this is a non-negotiable prerequisite for any supplier contracts. To continually test the stringency of our processes, we are one of only a small number of fashion houses conducting independent audits of fabric suppliers.

Over the past three years, as part of our focus on building long-term relationships based on trust and transparency, we’ve been refining our fabric mills. We have ceased working with 3 suppliers who could not be 100% transparent with us and/or were not supportive of our external agency conducting regular audit inspections.

Our suppliers are strictly prohibited from sourcing fabric from the stock market. It’s common practice in the industry to buy from the fabric stock market through third parties as it is often cheaper and requires shorter lead-times but we firmly will not work in this way as there is no traceability to source and origin.

Furthermore, we do not use cotton sourced from Uzbekistan. We use no denim that has undergone sandblasting and we do not acid wash our denim. We use no azo dyes (refer to below list of strictly banned aromatic amines) or formaldehyde in our fabrics.

All our fabric suppliers and fabric mills have signed our Comprehensive Non-use Declaration. This restricted substances list is included with every fabric and ready-to-wear order and must be signed, and agreed to, by our suppliers and partners before they produce for us. The declaration prohibits the use of all Azo group chemicals including: Biphenyl-4-ylAime, Benzidine, 4-Chloro-o-toluidin, 2-Naphthylamine, o-Aminoazotoluene, 5-Nitro-o-otoluidine, 4-Chloroaniline, 4-Methoxy-m-phenylenediamine, 4,4’- Diaminodiphenylmethane, 3,3’-Dichlorobenzidine, 3,3’-Dimethoxybenzidine, 3,3’-Dimethylbenzidine, 4,4’-Methylenedi-o-toluidine, 6-Methoxy-m-toluidine, 4,4’-Methylene-bis-(2-chloro-aniline), 4,4’ Oxydianiline, 4,4’-Thiodianiline, o-Toluidine, 4-Methyl-m-phenylenediamine, 2,4,5-Trimethylaniline, o-Anisidine, 4-Aminoazobenzene, 2,4-Xylidine, 2,6-Xylidine. To be extra safe in this regard, we conduct testing of all the chemicals listed above on a selection of our fabrics each season to ensure there are no traces of Azo group chemicals.

In 2018 our three most-used fibres were cotton, silk and polyester. We acknowledge that every fibre has its positives and negatives and impact the environment. We have assessed the environmental impact of all fibres and fabrics we use and have this information top of mind when selecting fabrics for our designs. A summary report of the environmental impacts of our most-used fibres in 2018 can be viewed here. Over the past 12 months we’ve been further implementing this information to continue refining the fabrics we use.

We're continuing to utilise more sustainable alternatives in our designs. We’re currently developing our upcoming collection with styles made in Global Recycled Standard verified polyester formulated from recycled plastic bottles. As an alternative to cotton denim, one of the textile industry’s most water intensive materials, we have included more tencel chambray in our collections as the production of tencel requires much less water and dye than cotton denim. We’re also currently sampling with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic cotton that can be traced right back to farm. We're also utilising more natural and renewable fibres such as linen. Continuing to analyse the benefits or environmental impact of the fibres we use, and trialling suitable alternatives remains a focus, and we look forward to sharing further developments over the next 12 months.

Trims

We believe it’s not enough to only have transparency from end-manufacturers and it’s also very important for brands to trace their entire supply chain including fabric and trims. This is seldom done in this industry. We are currently undergoing a review of the traceability of all our trims in order to get to the same level of transparency as with our fabric mills and ready-to-wear manufacturers.

All zips on Karen Walker garments are by YKK, find out more about their commitment to sustainability here.

All of our designs in production from Q4 of 2018 do not utilise virgin plastic buttons. Previously, 9% of our buttons (clear internal jiggers) were made from virgin plastic but these have been phased out. Going forth, our buttons will be made from metal, OEKO-TEX-conforming recycled polyester or corozo. A sustainable and durable option, corozo nuts are the seeds from the tropical tagua palm, which grows in the northwest of South America. Corozo is renewable, biodegradable and only harvested once it falls to the ground naturally.

Raw Materials

As part of our tracing project, we work closely with our fabric mills and request of them the location of the source of the raw materials in all our fabrics. Generally, raw materials are hard to trace but we’re committed to this project and will continue to work on it as well as refine our fabric choices further.

In 2018, we’ve been sampling designs with a number of fabrics made of raw materials that can be traced right back to source, including New Zealand-made and grown merino, Global Recycled Standard verified polyesters made from recycled plastic bottles and GOTS certified organic cotton that can be traced right back to farm. We intend to start introducing some of these fabrics into our collections from 2019 onwards. We look forward to sharing further developments over the next 12 months as continuing to research and sample more traceable fibres remains a focus.

COMPLIANCE AUDITING AND SUPPLIER TRAINING

Compliance Auditing

Our ready-to-wear manufacturing partners and fabric suppliers are fully audited by external agencies, including SGS and QIMA, against the SA8000® Standard every 18-24 months. These audits are extremely in-depth as their purpose is to verify, and ensure, our supply chain meets the brand's high standards, including matters of health and safety, child labour, freedom of association, wages, hours, disciplinary action, care and harassment, and discrimination. These audits take place unannounced as well as scheduled.

Our New Zealand-based production manager also visits our ready-to-wear partners at least twice per year and fabric mills once per year. We’re extremely happy that the small number of partners and suppliers we work with are so fantastic, accountable and align with our very high standards.

In addition to audits by external agencies and visits by our in-house production manager, we also have an independent, third-party QC manager who is qualified to the Advanced level of the SA8000® Standard. This QC manager works closely with our in-house production team and our China-based partners and is an independent contractor to the Karen Walker group. He is based in China and visits our ready-to-wear partners several times each season, 12-40 times each per year. As this QC manager is on-the-ground in China and frequently visiting our ready-to-wear partners, he helps to ensure our Code of Conduct and its high standards are adhered to and that our partners are well-supported.

SA8000® Standard

The SA8000® Standard is the leading social certification for factories and organisations across the globe. It measures social performance in eight areas (Child Labour, Forced or Compulsory Labour, Health and Safety, Freedom of Association and Right to Collective Bargaining, Discrimination, Disciplinary Practices, Working Hours and Remuneration) important to social accountability in workplaces and drives improvement in all areas. It is a rigorous approach to ensuring the highest quality of social compliance in supply chains. The Standard reflects labour provisions contained with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions. It also respects, complements and supports national labour laws around the world.

Supplier Training

We have a stringent supplier-training program, facilitated by an Advanced level SA8000® Standard-qualified auditor, to educate our ready-to-wear partners and their employees on our workplace standards and why they are important and must be adhered to. Training includes mitigating risks of human rights breaches, encouraging the use of our hotline, and increasing awareness of matters relating to child labour, forced or compulsory labour, health and safety, freedom of association and right to collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours and remuneration. Training sessions take place quarterly. In 2018 there has been a stronger focus on ensuring all employees understand their rights regarding collective and bargaining and freedom of association as outlined in our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance. This training program, and ongoing developments to it, is overseen by our NZ-based production manager who frequently attends industry workshops on human rights, risk assessment and health and safety.

Grievance Mechanism

During audits, the auditing agency gives the employees of our ready-to-wear partners and suppliers a hotline number which they can call at any time to privately (both anonymously or openly) report any issues. The hotline is available in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. If a call occurs, the agency will immediately begin the process of addressing the issue and we will also be notified to review and immediately act whilst protecting and supporting the employee. If the employee wishes to remain anonymous the auditing agency and our production manager will ensure their privacy is protected throughout the remediation process.

Child Labour

All our ready-to-wear manufacturing is Child Labor Free (CLF) accredited. If at any time, child labor, or suspected child labor, was found to exist within the supply chain, this would be a severe breach of our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance and our Child Labour Policy and the Child Labor Free Remediation Policy would apply. CLF will immediately work with us on a remediation process centred on the rights of the child. CLF will provide full protection and support to the child throughout each phase of the remediation process. The remediation process includes removing or rescuing the child from the situation, providing a secure and safe home or community based residence, rehabilitation appropriate to the child’s situation and supporting sustainable solutions to prevent the further development or re-entering of the child into labour. View the full remediation plan here.

Forced Labour

We strictly do not tolerate any use of involuntary labour. As outlined in our Code of Conduct for Social Compliance signed and agreed to by all partners and suppliers prior to engaging in work for Karen Walker, "Involuntary Labour" is defined as work or service which is extracted from any person under threat or penalty for its non-performance and for which the worker does not offer himself or herself voluntarily, and includes all manner of prison (or other incarceration), bonded, indentured and forced labour. Suppliers are prohibited from withholding employee identity documents including passports. View our Forced Labour Policy and course of remediation here.

Protection of the Environment

Environmental sustainability, caring for and safeguarding the environment, is both a key commitment in our day-to-day operations and a long-term core value. Ensuring all our products comply with environmental laws and regulations, we are constantly looking at future strategies to improve performance.

As a design company, our aim is to create beautiful and well-crafted items that will be loved and used for decades. We’re not interested in making lots of items and we do not produce in mass. We produce well-designed and well-made items. Less and better. We’re niche, boutique and global and we seldom make more than 100 of any particular style of garment. We don’t want to fill closets and our landfills with more "stuff". We only want to make beautiful pieces our customers will love wearing for many years and then pass along to the next wearer when they feel the time is right.

We assist our customers to lessen their contribution to landfill waste by offering an ongoing repair policy on all our ready-to-wear. We happily repair any garments that need a little love from lots of wear. Our customers are encouraged to contact their nearest Karen Walker store and/or our online customer services to arrange a consultation at any time and stage of the garment’s life.

With regard to fabric we have very little wastage as we always cut to finish and take care to use fabrics in the most efficient manner. From our New Zealand atelier and New Zealand production, any fabric offcuts and excess or seconds trims are donated to local schools and early childcare centres.

We strictly do not burn, destroy or send unsold or seconds product to landfill.

We respect and protect the communities and local areas where we work and are always looking for ways to operate in harmony with the spirit of the place. We encourage the same sensitive approach to be undertaken by our industry partners and suppliers. There is always potential to enhance our practices, and we continue to assess opportunities to reduce environmental impact.

In 2018 we introduced new processes around measuring and controlling our water, recycling and landfill waste, flying mileage, petrol, water and power consumption at our Auckland head office and workroom. We also have a plan in place to work with all our ready-to-wear partners around measurement and management to reduce their environmental impact particularly in the areas of chemicals, wastewater, water and energy usage.

We have conducted an assessment of the environmental impacts and risks throughout our supply chain, and in collaboration with our suppliers, partners and external environmental experts, we have devised strategies to prevent or mitigate these impacts. This information is top of mind when we’re designing and making sourcing considerations. One way we have minimised environmental impact with our choices in 2018, is the introduction of tencel chambray into our collections as an alternative to water and dye intensive 100% cotton denim. Another aspect we’re working on to minimise environmental impact is the sourcing of cotton. We’re currently sampling with GOTS certified organic cotton that can be traced right back to farm. We are also utilising more natural and renewable fibres such as linen in our designs. This environmental impacts and risks assessment and its procedures are reviewed minimum twice per year. Continuing to explore further opportunities and risks and implementing learnings into our supply chain processes remains a focus. A summary report of our environmental impacts and risks assessment can be viewed here.

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR SOCIAL COMPLIANCE

Child Labour

No person shall be employed under the age of 15, or under the age for completing compulsory education, whichever is higher. Employers must verify the age of their employees and maintain copies of their employees’ proof of age. Employers must follow all applicable laws and regulations regarding working hours and conditions for minors.

Involuntary Labour

There shall be no use of involuntary labour. "Involuntary Labour" is defined as work or service which is extracted from any person under threat or penalty for its non-performance and for which the worker does not offer himself or herself voluntarily, and includes all manner of prison (or other incarceration), bonded, indentured and forced labour. Employers are prohibited from withholding employee identity documents including passports. Employers must ensure freedom of movement for employees and their right to enter and leave employment willingly and voluntarily.

Disciplinary Practices

There shall be no use of corporal punishment or any other form of physical or psychological coercion or intimidation against employees.

Non-Discrimination

All employees must be employed solely on the basis of their ability to do the job and shall not be discriminated against on the basis of age, gender, racial characteristics, maternity or marital status, nationality or cultural, religious or personal beliefs or otherwise in relation to hiring, wages, benefits, termination or retirement.

Health and Safety

Employers shall maintain a clean, safe and healthy workplace in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. Employers shall ensure that employees have access to clean drinking water, sanitary washing facilities and an adequate number of toilets, fire extinguishers and fire exits and that workplaces provide adequate lighting and ventilation. Employers shall ensure that the aforementioned standards are also met in any canteen, dormitory and rest and recreational areas that are provided for employees.

Environmental Protection

Employers shall comply with all applicable laws and regulations in respect of protecting the environment and maintain procedures for notifying local authorities in the event of an environmental accident resulting from the employer's operations. Karen Walker works with its partners to take measures to reduce their environmental impact particularly in the areas of chemicals, hazardous waste, wastewater, water and energy usage.

Wages and Benefits

Employers shall provide wages and benefits that comply with all applicable laws and regulations or match the prevailing local manufacturing or industry rates, whichever is higher. Overtime pay shall be calculated at the legally required rate, regardless of whether employees are compensated hourly or by piece rate. All people employed directly by us or by companies we partner with or who manufacture for us are paid at least minimum wage.

Working Hours

Employers shall not require employees to work, including overtime, more than 60 hours per seven-day period, or more than any maximum number of hours per week established by applicable laws and regulations, whichever is less. Employers shall guarantee that employees receive at least one day off during each seven-day period. Employers shall ensure regular working hours do not exceed 48 hours per week. Regular working hours must be clearly stated in all employee contracts.

Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

Employers shall respect the right of employees to associate, organise and bargain collectively in a legal and peaceful manner.

Familiarisation and Display of This Code of Conduct

Employers shall familiarise employees with this Code of Conduct and display this Code of Conduct, translated into local languages, at each of their facilities in a place readily visible and accessible to employees.

Legal Requirements

Employers shall comply with all legal requirements applicable to the conduct of their businesses, including but not limited to, those set out above and all laws related to bribery, corruption and other prohibited business practices.

Contractors and Suppliers

Employers shall ensure that their contractors and suppliers adhere to this Code of Conduct.

Monitoring of Compliance - Audits

Employers authorise Karen Walker and its independent external auditors to conduct scheduled and unscheduled inspections and audits of their facilities for the purpose of ensuring compliance with this Code of Conduct. Auditors have unrestricted access and the right to review all employee-related books and records maintained by employers and to interview employees. Audits are carried out prior to commencement of contract with all factories and ongoing once every 18-24 months.

Corrective Action

In the event of a violation, Karen Walker Group and the employer concerned shall agree upon a corrective action plan to eliminate the problem in a timely manner. A period of one month is the stand-down for a re-audit. If the Code is breached on three occasions Karen Walker Group will advise corrective action resulting in termination of the business relationship.

Karen Walker Group is committed to long-term relationships with suppliers and manufacturers and shall in any way possible help to provide implementation assistance required for the process of continuous review and improvement of working conditions, including training and in-factory consultations.

Bribery and Corruption

Employers must, and must ensure each employee, officer and sub-contractor used for the supply of goods or performance of services under or in connection with this Code of Conduct: comply with all applicable laws relating to bribery and corruption; (a) not do or omit to do anything if such act or omission is likely to cause Karen Walker to be in breach of any such applicable laws; and (b) not give or receive any bribes, including in relation to any public official.

Code Adherence

Any questions regarding these Code standards or concerns that the Code is not being upheld should be directed to: karenwalker@karenwalker.com Attn: Social Responsibility Department. All correspondence is treated as confidential.

INDUSTRY ORGANISATION PARTNERSHIPS

Karen Walker Group currently works with the following agencies for change:

Child Labor Free

Child Labor Free accreditation certifies that a brand's supply chain, products and manufacturers are child labour free. Karen Walker is fully accredited for our ready-to-wear manufacturing.

United Nations' ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) / Artisan.Fashion

United Nations' fashion projects, the EFI and Artisan.Fashion connect artisans from the developing world to the international industry. Workers in the programme earn a living wage under dignified working conditions, with a commitment to minimal environmental impact. Karen Walker has worked with the EFI and Artisan.Fashion continually since 2012 and new collaborations continue. Our 7th collection with the EFI/Artisan.Fashion will launched in May 2018.

The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

Since November 2017, Karen Walker has been participating in the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, an initiative created to celebrate the talent, power and potential of artisans and designers and encourages new partnerships, trade networks and sustainability. We have partnered with Cook Islands artisans to create a completely handcrafted evening gown featuring the art form of traditional Cook Islands tivaivai. Tivaivai is a heritage skill lovingly passed from generation to generation and it’s of upmost importance to our Cook Islands partners that their craft is preserved for generations to come. The gown was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018 and was included in a public exhibition leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April, followed by the United Nations General Assembly in September. From December 2018 the gown will be housed permanently at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Find out more about the project here.

The Nature of Business

Karen Walker is working with The Nature of Business who provide consultancy on sustainable business practices particularly in the areas of labour rights and the environment.

Community

Breast Cancer Cure

Breast Cancer Cure is New Zealand's only not-for-profit organisation established solely to support research into breast cancer. Breast Cancer Cure is committed to finding a CURE for breast cancer by 2018. Karen Walker has been an ambassador for Breast Cancer Cure (formerly Breast Cancer Research Trust) for over 15 years.

SPCA New Zealand

The SPCA works to advance the welfare of all animals in New Zealand and helps protect animals who are sick, injured, lost, abused or simply abandoned. It is the only charity with the power to prosecute people under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Karen Walker fundraises regularly for the SPCA throughout the year and Karen is an ambassador for SPCA New Zealand.

Dove Hospice

Dove Hospice fulfils a unique role, offering free holistic care and support for people with life-threatening or terminal illness from the moment of diagnosis. In June 2018 and 2019, Karen Walker helped to raise funds for, and awareness of, Dove Hospice's work by hosting a Dove Hospice pop-up store at Karen Walker Newmarket. The pop-up showcased some of the incredible pre-loved gems that can be found in Dove Hospice charity stores and all the money raised from sales went to Dove Hospice. There will be more, seasonal, Dove Hospice x Karen Walker pop-ups to come throughout the year.

Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

Ralph Lauren created Fashion Targets Breast Cancer in 1994 in memory of fashion editor Nina Hyde who died of breast cancer. The campaign has a presence in 14 countries around the world. In 2015 Karen Walker designed the FTBC T-shirt for the Australian campaign, which raised funds for the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and its advancement of breast cancer research.

Friends of Finn

Friends of Finn works with The Humane Society of The United States to stop the inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills. Since its inception in 2010, Friends of Finn has raised more than $1.5 million for puppy mill education and awareness campaigns. Karen Walker is proud to help raise awareness and funds for Friends of Finn.

Make-A-Wish New Zealand

Make-A-Wish's mission is to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Karen Walker supports Make-A-Wish New Zealand's projects and fundraisers throughout the year.

For charity and sponsorship enquiries please contact:
karenwalker@karenwalker.com