Sportswear brand Adidas has been held up as a positive example for its efforts to ensure workers in its supply chain are paid a living wage in a new report. The ASN Bank report, entitled Living Wage in the Garment Sector: Results of the 2019 Reviews, said that Adidas was the only one of 13 brands to reach its ‘leading’ category. The annual reviews score brands on their living wage policies and how these are put into practice and how they appear to impact on textile workers. They are based on data provided by the companies and subsequent interviews.

Adidas was the only brand to score 30-40 points, to qualify for ‘leading’ status. Eight brands – Asos, Esprit, Gildan Activewear, H&M, Zara owners Inditex, KappAhl, Marks & Spencer, and Puma – scored 20-30 points to be classed as ‘maturing’. Another four brands – Asics, Hannesbrands, Renner and the VF Corp, which owns Timberland and North Face – were classed as ‘developing’ with 10-20 points. No brand was rated in the bottom ’embryonic’ category for those scoring less than 10 points.

The report said, “We were pleased to find that most of the companies reviewed made progress… Adidas has moved to the leading phase because it scored even better on transparency than last year. “This company provides wage data and compares it to living wage estimates, provides information on collective bargaining in supply chains and has the most extensive information on the functioning of its grievance mechanism and remediation of cases.

“More specifically, Adidas developed a standard minute costing system with its supplier. This system creates further transparency in the company’s product cost for materials, labour and overhead.” But it cautioned that more work was needed to discover the impact of living wage policies, “Even in the leading phase there is no guarantee that living wages are paid on the ground.”

Online retailer Asos was also praised for being the only company reviewed to define a living wage for its impact on textile workers’ families rather than just wage earners. ASN Bank, the largest sustainability-driven bank in the Netherlands, reviews brands’ policies on paying a living wage to garment workers as part of its human rights work, one of the three pillars of its sustainability policy.

Its long term goal is that all companies in the garment sector will have implemented all necessary processes to enable a living wage for workers in their supply chains by 2030. “A cynic would say companies only pay lip service to human rights obligations under OECD and UN frameworks while profiting from low wages. However, we see companies making progress on living wage individually, while also collaborating more intensely with relevant stakeholders to move forward,” the report says.