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Outdoor industry shares social responsibility tool

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the US trade association of the outdoor recreation industry based in Boulder, Colorado and Washington D.C., has come up with a Social Responsibility Toolkit (SRT) developed to “help brands and suppliers start and improve their social responsibility programs”.

The just released guidelines are one part of the SRT’s three created by the Social Responsibility Working Group (SRWG) and the Fair Labour Working Group, which includes retailers such as New Balance, The North Face and Timberland. Billed as a “guidebook with strategy guidance, tools and resources that can be adapted to suit any company’s needs”, the first part addresses basic awareness and any compliance issues a company may have.

 The remaining two parts will look at the improvements and aspirational levels of social responsibility practices and programs that a company may want to incorporate; part two and three are scheduled for release within the next year. Dozens of outdoor industry companies worked on the toolkit, which is set up as an open-source working document so that it can evolve with and respond to the growing needs of the outdoor industry in terms of improvements in supply chain operations and management.

 “It’s important to outdoor industry companies to promote and monitor safe and fair treatment of the workers who make our products, yet it can be challenging to figure out exactly how to go about implementing a program to achieve this. We encourage companies to use this toolkit to establish new social responsibility programs, as well as to assess and improve the programs they may already have,” said Mary Bean of Columbia Sportswear, SRWG leader in charge of the development of the updated Toolkit.

 The US outdoor industry is a 646 billion dollar industry of which the OIA is the leading trade association, serving more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, sales representatives and retailers. Though some of the recommendations and practices may be country specific, the SRT has been developed keeping any company’s needs in mind.
The Tookit is a result of one of the four key areas – social responsibility and fair labor issues – that the OIA’s SWG is currently working on. The three others working toward sustainability and responsibility in the outdoor industry are index development for apparel, footwear and equipment; responsible chemicals management and materials traceability throughout the supply chain.


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