Labour Behind the Label has released a report that criticises the achievements of H&M and M&S in their clothing supply chains.
M&S in particular comes off in a bad light. Its 2010 Plan A commitment to deliver a living wage appears to have failed. What the report establishes is that workers in key parts of M&S’ supply chain are still living in poverty. But as the report acknowledges, M&S cleverly did not actually commit to delivering people from poverty – what they committed to was more like ‘enabling’ fair wage conditions to arise. And in 2015, when the commitment was supposed to have been completed, it just turns out that they haven’t arisen.
Of course M&S is not alone in this. It is a widespread failing of much CSR that public statements are carefully crafted to convey the impression of responsibility while actually, technically allowing the company to avoid blame if things don’t work out. That way the PR gain is maximised – at least in the short run.
In the long run people will simply not believe them.