Corporate social responsibility

ILO and H&M sign unique agreement on sustainable global supply chains in the garment industry

New partnership will address industrial relations, wages, capacity building for social partners and skills development in global supply chains of the garment industry.

Press release | 15 September 2014
Helena Helmersson (Head of Corporate Social Responsability H&M) with ILO Director-General Guy Ryder
GENEVA AND STOCKHOLM - The International Labour Organization (ILO) and H&M have forged a unique partnership to promote sustainable global supply chains in the garment industry.

The agreement will include joint work on industrial relations and wages, training and skills development in factories H&M source from, as well as strengthening employers’ and workers’ organizations in the global garment industry.

“Issues in the garment industry are systemic and require action that helps develop effective industrial relations and promote respect of international labour standards. There is therefore an urgent need to establish strategic and comprehensive collaborations with companies that have experience in these fields, such as H&M,” says ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

“We see the cooperation as a great opportunity to further strengthen our work towards the establishment of well-functioning industrial relations on all our strategic production markets. ILO, with its unique tripartite composition, is the perfect partner for addressing issues such as wages and training and skills development in the textile industry,” says Karl-Johan Persson, CEO at H&M.

The cooperation between the ILO and H&M dates back to 2001, when H&M joined the ILO Better Factories programme in Cambodia. In 2013, the cooperation was expanded to specifically address industrial relations and wages in the country, including actions at the governance level.

Training and skills development

Another important collaboration began in 2013 with a training and skills development project in Bangladesh. The project aims to improve the quality of work and productivity in factories, and to enable workers to document and have their skills formally recognized.

The more comprehensive and strategic partnership under the new agreement will promote a wide range of activities at the global, national and enterprise level in a larger number of countries, until the end of 2018.

The partnership is intended to establish a positive and innovative model for other brands and create a global alliance to promote the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in the supply chain of the global garment industry.

About the ILO: The ILO has governments, employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations from 185 countries worldwide as members. Its unique tripartite structure and global presence means that it is well placed to contribute to sustainable change in global garment supply chains.

About H&M: H&M operates in 54 markets with 3,300 stores, with more than 116,000 employees. It works with around 900 suppliers representing 1,900 factories that produce for H&M. The company adopted a strategy for social sustainability in 2009, which emphasizes issues such as industrial relations and social dialogue; human rights and community development. H&M has also launched a new roadmap for a fair living wage based on the vision that a fair living wage should be paid by all its commercial goods suppliers.

ILO Department of Communication and Public Information: +41 22 799 7912 or
H&M global media representatives,, +46 8 796 53 00