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Respect for Human Rights

Last Updated: 2023.07.07
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Fast Retailing Group Human Rights Policy

As a company with operations around the world, Fast Retailing has established the Fast Retailing Human Rights Policy in accordance with international standards including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP), and promotes initiatives to respect human rights. This policy applies to all employees of the Fast Retailing Group, all workers in our supply chain and local communities affected by our business. We also continually urge our production and business partners to cooperate and adopt similar policies to respect human rights.

Our code of conduct for employees and production partners ensures compliance with the Human Rights Policy. See links below.

Human Rights Committee

In July 2018, Fast Retailing established a Human Rights Committee to promote initiatives aimed at respecting human rights. We appointed an outside expert, who has experience working as the head of the Human Rights Bureau in the Ministry of Justice in Japan, to head the committee, and the committee members are made up of outside directors of the board and auditors, along with Fast Retailing full-time auditors and executive officers in charge of the Legal and Compliance Department, Human Resources Department, Production Sales Department, and Sustainability Department. See Composition of Committees for more about committee membership and roles.

The role of the committee is to provide recommendations and supervision to ensure that we fulfill our obligations to respect human rights based on the Human Rights Policy, and that business operations are conducted appropriately. For example, the committee provides advice and recommendations on investigations and remedial action when a human rights violation is reported by any stakeholder. Additionally, the committee provides advice and recommendations on the education and awareness-raising activities regarding the protection of human rights and on human rights due diligence activities.

The main outcomes of the committee in fiscal 2022 include:

  • Advised business departments on implementing measures such as alerts and training based on results of a human rights survey of Fast Retailing employees in Japan. In addition, it advised business departments in some countries outside of Japan where human rights surveys have been conducted.
  • Discussed policies on harassment of employees by customers and advised related departments in each country and region on strengthening countermeasures through introducing guideline and establishing in-house consulting service specified for this type of harassment.
  • Advised business departments to improve the effectiveness of grievance mechanisms, through providing in-house consulting service (Fast Retailing Group Hotline), based on investigating the actual situation in each country and region.
  • Advised business departments to establish systems and training to prevent human rights risks in product design, marketing and advertising.

With the aim of mitigating serious human rights risks in the supply chain, the committee advised on initiatives to prevent violations of rights of foreign migrant workers.  Fast Retailing established a Risk Management Committee to complement the effective functioning of the Board of Directors. The Risk Management Committee is responsible for the central management of group-wide risks. The Committee has recognized human rights as one potential risk. The executive officer in charge of Sustainability is a member of the Risk Management Committee, in charge of human rights.

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Human Rights Education

Fast Retailing promotes human rights education to deepen the understanding of the respect for and protection of human rights among its employees. The Fast Retailing Group Code of Conduct covers fundamental matters concerning human rights, and each year we utilize e-learning to widely disseminate this information so that employees can gain a deeper understanding of these issues.
Our target is to provide the human rights training to all group company employees. In fiscal 2022, we conducted training on harassment via e-learning for management, including store managers, in Japan.

Human Rights Training for Executive Officers and Officers Responsible for Global Operations

In June 2022, a training session on discrimination and harassment was conducted for executive officers and officers responsible for global operations. The session introduced human rights due diligence outcomes and behaviors that could be considered discrimination or harassment. This was followed by discussions and a Q&A session that deepened participant understanding of human rights issues that could occur in the apparel industry.

Training on Human Rights on Product Design and Marketing Activities

Using concrete examples of human rights violations, we regularly conduct training on respecting human rights in product design, product development and marketing and advertising for employees in charge of those areas in Japan and other countries and regions.

Human Rights Due Diligence

To respect the human rights of people affected throughout the entire business and supply chain in accordance with the UNGP, we have developed and continually implement human rights due diligence (identifying and assessing the scope of human rights violation risks in our corporate activities and developing improvement measures and educational systems). The due diligence process also includes assessing new circumstances such as new business relationships and production countries through our regular workplace monitoring program, stakeholder mapping and engagement.

Human Rights Due Diligence Process

Human Rights Due Diligence Process

As a global retailing company, Fast Retailing has a large team of employees of varying backgrounds. We also have an increasingly diverse set of customers around the world who enjoy our products and services, with whom we communicate regularly.

As we continue to grow our business internationally, issues such as harassment and discrimination present as potential Human Rights risks. Fast Retailing commissioned an independent assessment in fiscal 2019, which confirmed that these issues represent a risk to our business, and more broadly to the apparel industry. Accordingly, we have put measures in place to safeguard the rights of all stakeholders, proactively working to prevent any kind of harassment or discrimination occurring in our business. For example, we provide employee training, evaluate employee approaches to work, and have implemented anonymous employee hotlines worldwide. We continue to pursue various other preventive measures.

Our business also carries a risk that workers operating outside our own company, but connected to our supply chain, may be vulnerable due to economic or social factors in locations where we have manufacturing bases. To help manage human rights risks in our supply chain, we maintain close dialogue and partnerships with international organizations and groups with deep knowledge and experience of the issues. We work to clearly define potential human rights issues, monitor factories and operate anonymous hotlines. In 2020, we conducted human rights due diligence on our supply chain and have taken preventative measures for the salient risks we identified. This includes strengthening factory workplace monitoring programs and grievance mechanisms and collaboration with expert organizations.

Fast Retailing is committed to upholding the human rights of people working in or with our business, and to promptly resolve specific issues if they do arise.

Hotlines and Remedial Measures

Fast Retailing has set up a hotline not only for employees, but also for all stakeholders including customers, local communities, business partners* and people working in core partner sewing factories and fabric manufacturers. The hotline is available in local languages in the locations in which we operate. When a report is received, the department in charge of the hotline conducts an investigation, and considers remedial measures. Serious matters are brought up to the Human Rights Committee, which discusses remedial measures to be taken and provides recommendations to related departments. Throughout the course of each hotline case, we protect the privacy of individuals involved, prohibit retaliation, and do not allow discriminatory treatment in any form. Also, we do not obstruct affected stakeholders to access to other remedies and we are open to collaboration that provides remedy.

Fast Retailing's Hotlines

Human Rights Hotline and Remedial Measures
*The hotline for business partners is setup in Japan only.

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Respecting Human Rights of Our Employees

Fast Retailing respects the human rights of all our employees. We take various measures for our employees to ensure a better understanding and acceptance of Fast Retailing Group Code of Conduct and operate a hotline in which employees can anonymously report violations to our Code of Conduct or their complaints. We promote diversity and strive to offer a healthy and safe work environment for all employees.

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Respecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain

To realize a supply chain that thoroughly respects people's human rights, we have established a compliance protocol to be followed by production partners as part of their production activities within our Code of Conduct for Production Partners. We also conduct regular workplace monitoring to verify the state of compliance.

Through our risk assessment and workplace monitoring, we have defined the following as salient human rights risks in the supply chain: child labor, illegal employment of young workers, forced labor, coercion and harassment, discrimination, serious health and safety violations, serious violation of freedom of association, insufficient wage payment, excessive working hours, transparency issues such as false records and unauthorized subcontracting. We assess the impact and likelihood of these risks to prevent them from occurring and take appropriate countermeasures if they do.

We have published declarations in line with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB657), the U.K. Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018, and the report under French Corporate Duty of Vigilance Law (Devoir de Vigilance des Sociétés Mères et des Entreprises Donneuses d'ordre 2017- n°399-2017).

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Preventive Measures and Actions Taken for Addressing Industry-wide Human Rights Issues

We engage with stakeholders in order to not only understand human rights issues in detail and plan and take countermeasures but also execute preventive measures. Collaborating with relevant experts, we are taking concrete initiatives on some important human rights issues in supply chain as below:

• Prevention of Child Labor
Child labor is a serious social issue that impedes the healthy growth of children and deprives them of educational opportunities. Fast Retailing is committed to abolishing and preventing child labor and uphold the rights described in the international guidelines such as "Children's Rights and Business Principles".
Fast Retailing has been requiring factories to have preventive measures against child labor in the supply chain, this is clearly stipulated in our Code of Conduct for Production Partners. In our workplace monitoring program, auditors check if factories validate the ages of workers with proper identification at recruitment.

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• Responsible Recruitment
Fast Retailing has clarified in its Code of Conduct for Production Partners there is no tolerance for forced labor including human trafficking. In the supply chain, migrant workers are especially vulnerable. We monitor that workers are not to be treated unfairly in the recruitment process and during employment. In February 2019, Fast Retailing signed the commitment to Responsible Recruitment as defined by the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) in October 2018. From September 2019, partnering with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), we had a project to study the recruitment and employment conditions of migrant workers in our supply chains and to address identified challenges. We adopted the Fast Retailing Standards and Guidelines on Responsible Recruitment of Migrant Workers for Production Partners and continue to hold sessions to raise awareness and understanding of factories so that factories implement operations in accordance with the Guidelines.

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• Coercion and Harassment
Coercion and harassment is an issue that can lead to adverse effects on the working environment and workers' physical and mental health. For a healthy working environment, it is crucial that workers can work without the fear of coercion and harassment. Fast Retailing does not accept any forms of coercion and harassment and stipulates clearly that all workers at factories shall be treated with respect and dignity in our Code of Conduct for Production Partners.
Based on the result of grievances and country risk analysis by Fast Retailing we found that remedies and preventive measures on harassment issues were required at factories in Bangladesh. We are working with Awaj Foundation and Change Associates Ltd. to prevent harassment by taking measures including training, establishment of complaint committees and anti-harassment policies and guidelines.

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• Living Wage
In order to ensure fulfilling and stable lives of people working in the supply chain, Fast Retailing aims not only to guarantee minimum wages, but also to realize living wages. In the Fast Retailing Code of Conduct for Production Partners, we state that a living wage should be at a level which not only satisfies workers' basic needs for clothing, food and housing, but also enables workers' decent lives. Fast Retailing is a member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) which established a commitment to fair compensation in 2015. Fast Retailing will analyze compensation data and how it is paid in factories in collaboration with FLA and to understand how solutions can be implemented to address identified wage gaps.

Please see the below page for more details of Fast Retailing's goals and initiatives to realize a living wage.

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• Social Protection
Asia's workers, especially garment-manufacturing workers, are at high risk of job displacement due to the rapidly-shifting employment needs of the region's evolving economies. However, existing social protection schemes and labour market policies in the area often do not fully protect workers from risks of unemployment or from risk of hardship associated with protracted unemployment. From September 2019, Fast Retailing partnered with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to support ILO research on labor markets and social security systems in Asian countries. In 2020, the Omnibus Law on Job Creation was issued in Indonesia, and an employment insurance scheme to secure an income during periods of unemployment was added to the country's social security system. We will continue to support projects to strengthen workers' rights in other countries such as Bangladesh.

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Respecting Women's Rights

Respecting women's rights and promoting diversity and inclusion

Fast Retailing is committed to respecting women's rights under the "Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women" in our Human Rights Policy. We prohibit harassment, intimidation and violence against women.
Fast Retailing has implemented training programs for managers to prevent harassment by sharing concrete examples of verbal abuse, maternity harassment and sexual harassment.
The Diversity & Inclusion team has implemented various programs such as networking events for female employees and conducting awareness surveys on advancement of women in the workplace in Japan to help share information on childbirth and childcare, and ensure the views of female employees are fully reflected in our human resource systems and company benefits.

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Respecting rights of women working in factories

In the workplace monitoring of factories, Fast Retailing monitors gender-related issues such as discrimination and harassment as well as health and safety issues relevant to women's rights. Our audit checklist used for workplace monitoring includes the following questions:

  • Is the facility's written rules and regulations and workplace standards regarding coercion and harassment and discrimination compliant with local laws and Fast Retailing's Code of Conduct for Production Partners?
  • Have there been any instances of sexual harassment?
  • Are the disciplinary rules and practice fair, reasonable and compliant with legal requirements? Are they applied to any physical, sexual, psychological or verbal violence, harassment or abuse, and also applied to the facility management?
  • Have there been any instances of discrimination in employment, promotion, compensation, welfare, dismissal and/or retirement? Are there any pre- and/or post-employment requirements such as pregnancy tests?
  • Are workers trained regarding anti-discrimination and is there a system in place for them to file discrimination-related grievances?
  • Have there been any instances where the facility management attempted to prevent workers from legitimately executing their rights of freedom of association?
  • Is drinking water accessible and adequate at each facility floor?
  • Is the facility's noise levels, ventilation, temperature, lighting, cleanliness, and tidiness suitable as a working environment?

When improvements are required, we support our partners to implement measures for improvement. In addition, through our hotline for factory workers, we have identified gender-related issues and have taken concrete action for improvement such as supporting establishment of complaints committees at factories in Bangladesh.

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In 2019, under a global partnership with UN Women, Fast Retailing developed a program named "Women Empowerment Program" to support career development for women in production partner factories in Asia, the company's main production hub. A pilot project was conducted in Bangladesh in 2019 to identify gender-related issues and in response to issues found at our production partner factories, we provided training to improve the management skills of women and to raise awareness of issues among factory managers. Since June 2021, we have partnered with Innovision Consulting, a company in Bangladesh that contributed significant research on women's work styles and trainings on women's empowerment. With their support, we have been expanding the project to other partner factories in Bangladesh providing training for target workers. These initiatives have led to a steady increase in the number of women in management positions.
In 2023, Fast Retailing seeks to expand and deepen the impact of the program. In addition to increasing the number of training sessions to include a greater number of workers, a new focus for the program will be to strengthen the enabling environment for female workers to thrive and feel safe in the workplace.
Learn more about the program here.

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