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Human Rights

Last Updated: 2020.06.30
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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.

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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 2019 include:

  • Checked the outcome of human rights due diligence across Fast Retailing Group operations (including defining and evaluating the scope of human rights violation risk in operational activities, improvement measures, and training frameworks), and advised the department in charge of human rights on measures to counteract any identified human rights risks.
  • Offered advice to the Sustainability Department on addressing human rights risks and workplace monitoring frameworks in partner factories.
  • Requested the Marketing Department to formulate clear guidelines for considering human rights factors in advertising expressions.
  • Requested the department to promote diversity active progress on LGBT and other employee diversity initiatives, and advised on how they should be carried out.
  • Advised the department in charge of human rights on human rights training for the employees of head offices and store managers in the Fast Retailing Group Japan, and confirmed its implementation.

Fast Retailing has established a Risk Management Committee under the direct jurisdiction 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 of the potential risks. 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 2019, we conducted the training for the total 2,400 employees, targeting the employees of head offices and store managers in Japan.

Workshops on Human Rights

In March 2018, NGO Shift, which is endorsed by the UNGP, conducted human rights workshops for executive officers and managers in our Human Resources, Sustainability, Legal and Compliance and Production Departments. The purpose of the workshops was to provide a more in-depth understanding of the respect for human rights that global companies are expected to demonstrate and highlight specific human rights risks.

Human Rights Training for Executive Officers

In July 2018, we welcomed an external expert to host a training session for executive officers on "Business and Human Rights." The session introduced cases of human rights violation in the supply chain and issues arising out from product design and advertising creative. This was followed by discussions and a Q&A session that deepened the participants' understanding of human rights issues that could occur in the apparel industry.

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 partner factories and operate anonymous hotlines.

Fast Retailing is committed to upholding the human rights of people working in or with our business, and to promptly resolving 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

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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, forced labor, coercion and harassment, discrimination, unsafe workplaces, freedom of association breaches, illegal or unjustified dismissal of workers on strike, retaliation on workers who have submitted grievances, non-payment of wages, transparency issues such as false records and unauthorized subcontracting. We assess the impact and likelihood of these risks to prevent them and take appropriate countermeasures in case they happen.

We have published declarations in line with the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB657), the U.K. Modern Slavery Act 2015, 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 working to abolish and prevent child labor based on the international guidelines such as "Children's Rights and Business Principles".
Fast Retailing has been requiring partner 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 partner factories validate the ages of workers with proper identification at recruitment. We engage with relevant experts such as CCR CSR in Myanmar, a social enterprise that consults businesses' projects on child rights to understand country-specific issues relating to child labor and take concrete action to prevent child labor in our partner factories.

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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. Driven by the commitment, in September 2019 we have launched a new initiative with International Organization for Migration (IOM) to study the recruitment and employment conditions of migrant workers in our supply chains as well as develop our capacity to respond to identified challenges related to the human and labor rights of migrant workers.

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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 in partner 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 in partner 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 our partner factories in collaboration with FLA and to understand how solutions can be implemented to address identified wage gaps.

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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. In September 2019, Fast Retailing entered in a partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to support ILO research on labor markets and social security systems in Asian countries, as well as promoting employment insurance in Indonesia and strengthening worker support mechanisms during periods of unemployment.

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Respecting Women Rights

Respecting women rights and promoting diversity and inclusion

Fast Retailing is committed to respecting women's rights based on 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 a networking for women's participation and advancement in the workplace in Japan to help share information on childbirth and childcare, and ensure the views of female employee are fully reflected in our human resource systems.

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Respecting women rights and promoting diversity and inclusion

In May 2019, Fast Retailing and UN Women signed a global partnership to champion women's rights and empowerment in the apparel industry. This is the first formal alliance between UN Women and a clothing company based in Asia.
Under the new partnership, Fast Retailing and UN Women will together promote safe and secure work environments, and advance empowerment for all women and girls. The scope of the partnership, which includes an investment from Fast Retailing of USD $1.6 million (around ¥170 million) over two years (2019-2021), is to jointly implement a program for female workers in garment factories in Asia, the company's main production hub. The partnership also comprises a management training program to further diversity at the company.

The joint project focuses on three areas:

  1. Capacity building for mid-career female workers in support of their career progression, by providing specialized leadership training to reach leadership positions;

  2. Providing opportunities for female workers to acquire new skills including those responding to trends in the area of automation;

  3. Raising awareness of the importance of gender equality and women's empowerment among men in decision-making positions, to create enabling environments for career progression of female workers.

In its first year, the project will target partner factories in Bangladesh, China and Vietnam, to identify specific local gender-based challenges that female factory workers face. Responding to the findings, a support program will be developed to provide specialized training for female workers selected from 200 partner factories in the three countries.

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