Beyond corporate social responsibility A Primark case study
Page 3: Why Primark embraces CSR
As an international business with a global supply chain and a growing retail base, Primark believes that business has a responsibility to act and trade ethically and that, by doing so, it can be a force for good. Its business directly contributes to the employment of more than 700,000 workers across three continents. Ensuring that their rights are respected is key to its continued growth.
Primark does not own the companies or factories that produce its goods, but it does have a responsibility to the workers in those factories, to its customers and shareholders, to ensure that its products are made in good working conditions. The HERproject in Bangladesh is an example of how Primark is actively seeking to make positive changes in the lives of its supplier workforces.
In Bangladesh, over 50% of the manufacturing workforce is made up of women. The jobs available to women in garment factories give them greater independence and help to reduce poverty. However, these women often have little education and low levels of literacy as they drop out of education early to help their families.
They also lack basic knowledge of health, hygiene and nutrition and an understanding of how a woman’s body works. Poor hygiene often causes persistent and painful infections. Childbirth is particularly hazardous and post-birth complications are common. There is little understanding of the symptoms of sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV) or the means of preventing transmission. Far more women than men are malnourished and many women suffer from anaemia. These issues, often combined with a lack of access to qualified medical advice, mean that the female workforce is particularly vulnerable.
The HERproject uses education as the key tool against all these inter-related problems. The programme aims not only to improve the health of female workers through training and education, but also to give them the tools to help them take charge of their personal and working lives. These benefits in turn pass on to their families and help to enhance whole communities.