Mountain Equipment Co-op Releases First Accountability Report – “Marking Our Route”

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Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), Canada’s largest retail co-operative and one of its leading corporate citizens, has published its most comprehensive report to date on its ethical sourcing program.  The 2005 Ethical Sourcing Report marks another step towards transparency and explains how the outdoor retailer intends to influence sourcing practices in Canada and beyond.

"The report marks an important milestone in the evolution of our ethical sourcing program," said CEO Peter Robinson.  "Conducting factory audits and calling on suppliers to address issues of non-compliance are not enough.  We believe you have to be open about current issues and the challenges ahead."

"Our goal in the Canadian setting is to move the discourse beyond policing and auditing to the causes of non-compliance," Robinson added. "The report speaks directly to these larger issues."

MEC conducted 27 factory audits of its house-brand contract factories in 2005.  The audits revealed a total of 218 deficiencies; over half concerned health and safety issues. Wages and benefits and a category that includes lax enforcement and ignorance of standards and regulations were other major areas of deficiency.

The kind and number of deficiencies are consistent with what global brands and other retailers are reporting.  MEC will continue to push factories to fully comply with both its Supplier Code of Conduct and United Nations standards.

"Factories and their owners and managers contribute to non-compliance issues, but they are by no means the only reason" said Harvey Wah Chan, MEC’s social compliance manager and the report’s author.

"Worker abuses also stem from global economic forces, seasonality and hyper-competitiveness within the industry, retail trends and-perhaps most important-consumer demand itself.  We all have a role to play in addressing these issues."

In 2005, MEC-brand products were manufactured by 63 factories in 17 countries.  Canadian factories produced 42.5 per cent of MEC-brand goods and accounted for approximately 16 per cent of deficiencies.

Author:(Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC),)

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