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Human Rights

Last Updated: 2021.06.17
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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 2020 include:

  • Revised the Fast Retailing Group Human Rights Policy. Revision was made to add statements on employee diversity and respecting human rights and children's rights in product design, marketing and advertising.
  • Advised the HR, Legal and Training departments on measures to counteract human rights risks identified through human rights due diligence (including defining and evaluating the scope of human rights violation risk in operational activities, improvement measures, and training frameworks) conducted across Fast Retailing Group operations in fiscal 2019.
  • Requested the Legal department to respond to the anti-harassment law enforced in Japan on June 1, 2020.
  • Checked the outcome of human rights due diligence conducted on partner factories and advised the Sustainability department on current programs including the factory workplace monitoring and response to the identified human rights risks.
  • Liaising with the Business Ethics Committee and other teams, offered advice to the relevant departments on respecting the human rights of employees at business partners.
  • Advised Diversity and Inclusion team on how they should carry out LGBTQ+ and other employee diversity initiatives.

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 2020, we conducted training for new graduates and newly-promoted managers including store managers in Japan.

Workshops on Human Rights

In March 2018, the 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 and Officers Responsible for Global Operations

In February 2019, an external expert hosted a training session on discrimination and harassment 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.

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. In 2020, we conducted human rights due diligence on partner factories 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

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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 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's Rights

Respecting women's 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 rights of women working for our partner factories

In the workplace monitoring of our partner 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 our partner factories in Bangladesh.

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Respecting women's 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 this new partnership, Fast Retailing and UN Women worked together to promote safe and secure work environments and to enhance empowerment for all women in the apparel industry. The scope of the partnership was to jointly implement a program for female workers in garment factories in Asia, the company's main production hub. From June 2019 to December 2020, a pilot project was conducted at two of our partner factories in Bangladesh to identify gender-related issues and measure the effectiveness of career-advancement training. Details of pilot results can be found here.

From 2021, the global partnership focuses on two areas:

  1. 1.

    Support for UN Women's COVID-19 response activities, including:

    • Cash-for-work opportunities for women producing essential goods and providing temporary essential support to limit the spread of COVID-19, including masks, hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment, food production and hygiene products, and securing basic income;
    • Communications support to raise awareness of COVID-19 risks, including violence against women, and to strengthen prevention measures among women and their families;
    • Resources and emergency funding, in line with public health advice, to ensure operational continuity of women's organizations working to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes temporary essential services such as safe spaces and shelters for domestic violence survivors and other support services for vulnerable women; and
    • Gender impact assessments and monitoring to build evidence in support of advocacy and communication efforts.
  2. 2.

    Collaboration and support for UN Women efforts to advance gender equality and women's empowerment including:

    • An event to raise awareness about the priorities of UN Women on International Women's Day, and the challenges associated with post COVID-19 recovery.

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