Make timely and accurate information accessible to all stakeholders.
According to the OECD, transparency means that companies should make accessible appropriate and accurate information regarding their activities, financial and non-financial situation, potential risks (social, ethical and environmental), ownership and governance. According to the Ellen McArthur Foundation, companies must also provide a common understanding to all stakeholders in the supply chain.
Corporate transparency allows assessing the level of environmental and social commitment of companies, as well as identifying potential risks within the value chain and establishing best practice examples. It also enriches the relationship with consumers by enabling them to make informed decisions about the products they buy. Thus, the information provided must be accessible, comparable and clear.
In the 2020 edition of the “Fashion Transparency Index“, Fashion Revolution analyzes the level of transparency of the 250 largest fashion brands, selected according to their annual turnover..The Index takes into account different segments within the fashion industry, from luxury brands to sportswear, denim, footwear or accessories. It takes a look at what the companies publish about their practices and environmental and social impact.
The results of the 2020 Fashion Transparency Index reveal the following:
- Most companies have between 11% and 25% level of transparency, meaning they do not publish information on suppliers, fair wages, circularity, waste management, water consumption or overproduction.
- Only one brand exceeds a 70% transparency level, sharing information on raw material suppliers or their internal auditing and improvement processes.
No brand exceeds an 80% transparency level. If they did, these brands would disclose their carbon emissions, renewable energy use and the water footprint of their own operations down to the raw material level.
There is still a long way to go
The Fashion Transparency Index reveals what is already known: there is still a lot to be done.
There is still a lot of information to be revealed about the social and environmental impacts of fashion brands. In terms of environmental impact, there is a lack of public and accessible information on the carbon footprint, water consumption, pollution or waste created by brands in their value chain, as well as information on their practices to preserve and regenerate natural resources.
Companies are not the only drivers of change. Increasingly, governments are getting involved in creating policies that oblige companies to apply stricter regulations. This will facilitate the publication of information in an accessible, honest and complete way. On the other hand, consumers play a fundamental role thanks to their ability to encourage and demand that both retailers and major brands make an effort to know and disclose information on their value chains.
Transparency is thus not a goal in itself, it is a tool for change. The goal is sustainable development, through a circular model that fights poverty while making a fair distribution of our limited global resources.
At Dcycle we guide companies on their transparency journey, analyzing their products’ life cycle and carbon footprint. Find out more about how we do it here.