At Matrix, we are committed to producing high-quality products that do not come at the expense of others. These commitments come with responsibilities for transparency and accountability.
As we approach the midpoint of 2019, it is important to step back and assess what we have done so far and the impacts we have achieved. Ethical standards are central to the Matrix ethos. We understand the significance of building sustainable and just supply chains that deliver a bright future for all. We care about where our products come from and under what conditions they are produced.
2019 started strong; it is our first year as a Leader in ethical trade with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). We take pride in our progress and take responsibility for our everyday business decisions and their impact within the supply chain.
Our progress doesn’t stop there, though. This update offers an insight into the highlights of how we are working to perfect our own ethical standards and support improvements across the industry at all levels.
After Matrix’s Linked Prosperity project was highly acclaimed at the first annual Sedex awards, we are honoured to have the Matrix led SCORE Training project in China selected as a case study example for the Sedex Sustainable Development Goal Report. This report will be shared with over 50,000 Sedex members later this year.
Fair Wear Foundation Worker Representation Panel
In March, our Head of Compliance, Steve Wickham, joined a panel at the Fair Wear Foundation conference in Amsterdam. The Fair Wear Foundation focuses on creating a garment industry that is fair for everyone.
We talked about how we help workers in our factories have a voice and how we help to enable different forms of worker representation in a region where trade unions are restricted and strikes are prohibited. The conference was attended by representatives from 50 different brands including some of our own retail customers.
Gender Equality Survey
Anna Ward, our Retail Account Executive, and Steve Wickham presented our research on Gender Equality in our China factories to the ETI membership in January. The research provided amazing insights — the interviews with factory managers showed that whilst they recruit on ability and have basic non-discrimination awareness, gender equality is not a topic that is particularly focused on.
Our data on the pay gap and seniority gap between genders in the factories surprised them, showing how valuable this research is. It revealed that more work and training needed to be done to ensure female workers are retained and help them reach senior positions in the factories through training.
QuizRR Modern Slavery Project
Our Ethical team in China shared the experiences of our factories in a pilot project for ETI in China. This provided valuable insights into the future development of the QuizRR digital training platform, which enables factory workers to learn about topics such as Modern Slavery by watching videos, playing quizzes and mobile style games.
MatrixHappen – UK
We had a brilliant final at Guildford County School in February when the 6 chosen product design finalists presented their ideas to our panel of Matrix dragons. The 6 amazing designs were so good that we couldn’t choose a single winner and instead they all won!
As a result, we can look forward to welcoming all 6 teams to our office in June or July to spend a day in our design studio bringing their product designs to the next level. They will be spending time with each department to find out what it will take to bring their amazing ideas to market. We also hope to be able to sample at least 3 of the products in our China factories too!
SCORE Project – China/UK
As we come to the end of SCORE training project with ETI and ILO, we undertook a full audit of all training activity carried out during the past 2 years from 20 different factories which included 67 different modules for over 8,000 workers on topics such as Workplace Cooperation, Health & Safety, Worker-Management Cooperation, Clean Production and Quality Management. The final report was presented by Steve to the ILO and German government Ministry for Economic Development in May, who sponsored the project, and Robin and Adams from our China Ethical Team hosted a closing session with the factories and ETI in Guangzhou next month.
Audits and Factory Updates
More unannounced audits were carried out by our retail customers which highlights the growing importance for honesty and transparency in our supply chain The Ethical Team are now working with our tier 1 and tier 2 packaging suppliers to ensure they are as well prepared as possible for any future un-announced visits and fully understand the requirements of our customers to ensure their brands are protected.
The Ethical Team have also been busy ‘in the field’ and in 2019, between January and March, there have been 28 factory visits, 2 factory training courses and 10 ethical trade industry events to help ensure that our high standards are met.
Delivering Quality Products and High Ethical Standards: Improving the Lives of Workers and Customers
Matrix has had a productive year in raising our ethical standards and delivering fairer working conditions. 2019 so far has been a year encompassing a wide range of initiatives, projects and research, all of which have proven to be pivotal in understanding what more needs to be done.
In December 2018, we also found that the average take-home pay per month across our core factories during the year was approximately RMB 4,500 , which is more than double the minimum wage — a figure we strive to further increase in 2019 by helping our factories work more efficiently.
Social and ethical responsibility underpins everything we do — high-quality products do not need to come at the expense of others. We look forward to seeing what positive impacts we can have during the rest of 2019!