Creating Better Data

Creating better data for factory improvements

Creating Better Data Unlocking new insights to drive greater progress

Data is essential to realizing our vision to create long-term, sustainable improvements in working conditions. Beyond helping us gauge our progress, it reveals trends, points to new questions and highlights opportunities to advance our efforts in the future. Most of all, the data we collect offers critical insights that affect real people. Under what conditions are they working? What challenges do they – and we – continue to face? What are the levers for creating greater change?

Data is essential to realizing our vision to create long-term, sustainable improvements in working conditions.

 We know that good data will help us take our efforts to the next level, and in 2014 we invested in creating a new Data & Insights team within our global sustainability group. This team was initially tasked with assessing our current approach to collecting data and rating factories that make our products. The team has since made some important changes to our methodology and built a new data system that we believe will enable us to make greater improvements to working conditions in the future.

Rethinking our approach to factory ratings started with a critical question: How could we best address our low-performing, red-rated factories?

Factory sewing machine

New Factory Ratings

Rethinking our approach to factory ratings started with a critical question: How could we best address our low-performing, red-rated factories? In looking more deeply into these factories’ performance, we discovered that overtime violations were the largest single reason that their ratings dropped. But the data gave us an incomplete picture. It did not reveal the severity of violations or track progress at the factories with the most serious issues. In addition, factories that did make improvements had to wait a potentially significant amount of time before seeing the benefits of their efforts, since our factory ratings were based on a weighted average that could cover a period of up to four years.

Based on these findings, our team revised our ratings systems so that we could better identify and address more serious issues, while rewarding the progress that factories make on improving labor practices and working conditions.

New Data System

Our team also worked with a third party to enhance our approach by creating a customized system that we can use to capture and analyze data for our updated factory ratings. This new system, which we have been implementing in recent months, allows us to look at the severity of issues as well as the connections between working conditions and key business metrics, such as employee retention, worker productivity and product quality. In addition, we will be able to manage data on the environmental performance of our suppliers and our own facilities. As part of this new system, suppliers will be able to self-report on their social and environmental performance.

We revised our ratings systems to better identify and address more serious isues, while rewarding progress.