The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) tapped five winners - American & Efird Inc., Jockey International, Reebok International, Sara Lee Corp. and VF Corp. - for its first annual "Excellence in Social Responsibility" Awards, announced before some 210 apparel and footwear executives attending the group's annual meeting in San Francisco in June.
"We know that we have a lot of influence over manufacturing conditions, and we know we can make the world a better place," said Steven Jessup, executive director, Sara Lee Corp., and chair of the AAFA's Social Responsibility Committee.
Jessup said it's important to acknowledge the good deeds of the apparel industry, including the building of hospitals, schools, churches and houses, noting that participation in the awards program is not limited to AAFA members, but will be encouraged at the broadest levels.
The awards program was designed to recognize companies' best practices in a variety of areas of social responsibility that positively impact employees, business and/or community. The specific category winners were as follows:
American & Efird Inc. for "Preservation of the Environment." American & Efird was cited for such significant strides as recycling more than 90 percent of its generated waste; saving a million gallons of gasoline a year; and creating environmentally friendly model facilities in China and Sri Lanka. A&E's manufacturing facilities have set a goal of 100 percent elimination of landfill waste. The company also has instituted a National Plastic Recycling Program.
Jockey International for "Health & Safety." Jockey established its President's Award for Safety Excellence program in 1998 as a comprehensive safety program. The program measures four fundamental safety indicators: plant safety; workers' compensation performance; comparison with national incident rates; and reduction of lost-time accidents. As one example of success, Jockey saw its lost-time accidents drop from more than 100 in 1998 to fewer than 40 in 2002.
Reebok International for "Creative Programs for Compliance." As an extension of its 1992 Human Rights Production Standards Program, Reebok launched its Human Rights Exchange Program in 2001. Production line workers and human rights staffs from five footwear factories each in Thailand and Indonesia traveled to one another's facilities to meet their peers, observe leadership practices and learn about new approaches to code of conduct compliance. Factories that participated are among those with the best record of compliance with Reebok's code of conduct.
Sara Lee Corp. for "Community Outreach." Sara Lee was recognized for its Adopt-A-School programs in El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Sara Lee contributes money to build school buildings and buy supplies, and its employees volunteer their time to serve as coaches, assistants and developers of Junior Achievement-type programs.
VF Corp. for "Women's Issues." Seven years ago, VF's Lee Jeans division created Lee National Denim Day, whereby on a designated Friday in October, employees of participating companies wear denim to work in exchange for a $5 contribution to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. It has become the nation's largest single-day fund-raiser for breast cancer, raising more than $6.5 million in 2002 and more than $36 million in total. Additionally, Lee estimates it reached more than 112 million people with breast health information in 2002.
New Officers Installed
Also at the AAFA annual meeting, Don Munro, chairman of the Munro & Company Inc., was named chairman of the AAFA board of directors. He replaces outgoing AAFA chairman Paul R. Charron, chairman and CEO, Liz Claiborne Inc.
In his first remarks to the AAFA, Munro said he wanted to increase and diversify the association's member base to include both large public companies and smaller, private companies. "We all matter, and our perspectives are needed. I hope you will join me in making this happen," said Munro.
Other new officers include: vice chairman Edward Emma, president and COO, Jockey International Inc.; treasurer Cary McMillan, CEO, Sara Lee Branded Apparel; and secretary Wesley Card, CFO and COO, Jones Apparel Group Inc.
New officers for the AAFA Supplier and Resource Division (SRD) are: chairman Victor Hershaft, Paxar Corp.; vice chairman Steve McLendon, Nester Software Technologies Inc.; and secretary Tom Costin, Sole Tech Inc.
Additionally, Rick Ludolph, Productive Solutions, was honored with the association's Charles Lewis Memorial Award for his outstanding service and contributions.
SUSAN S. BLACK is publisher of Apparel and may be reached at email@example.com.
AAFA's 2004 Annual Meeting
Feb. 26-28, Scottsdale, AZ
Photos of award winners courtesy of AAFA.