About Us

Welcome to Girlfriend Collective.

When we started Girlfriend Collective we knew that we wanted to get away from fast fashion that strips the world of its resources and ends up in landfills. We decided to commit to meaningful change rather than the quickest route by using recycled fabrics, certified by Oeko-Tex, Global Recycling Standards, and Bluesign. All our fabric is cut and sewn at our SA8000 facility, the fair trade equivalent for garment production.

We also discovered quickly that high end fit and feel is not a matter of cost, it’s a matter of time. We take the time to make sure every single one of our designs is so beautiful that you won’t cycle through it the next time you look through your closet.

Beyond that we wanted to find a community of people who cared about where their clothes come from as much as how they look. We're lucky to have found you. Take a look around, we're glad you're here.

Where are you guys located?

Our offices are in sunny, tropical downtown Seattle Washington.

Who are you and your designers?

Ellie, a co-founder and our Creative Director, is the chief visionary of all things brand and feel. She has years of experience designing content for the web and understanding the sweet spot between visual design and spreadability.

Quang, the other co-founder and General Manager, started his own businesses right after college, designing and developing premium denim lines. These lines were eventually sold at every major department store and boutique across the world.

Jimmy, our full stack engineer, was previously a software development manager for Amazon, on the team that delivered the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Hampus brings us years of design experience. With a BA and MA from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design (the MIT of fashion design), he’s designed and consulted not only for Acne Studios, but also for some of the best lines out there, including Elizabeth + James, H&M, and Puma. He now runs fashion consultancy firm, Champary.

Jennifer brings her technical expertise from her time as a lead women’s designer at Lululemon Lab. We haven’t met anyone that knows more about technical fabrics, fit, and function than her.

Are you for real?

We are totally, 100% real. At least, that’s what our moms tell us.

We are doing this free campaign because we believe the best way to fall in love with a product is to try it yourself. Our experience in the fashion world developing premium denim lines inspired us to make something of our own that spoke to our values.

We started Girlfriend Collective because we saw the need for affordable, luxury activewear that doesn’t destroy the environment, and that gives everyone from the factory to the office living wages and a decent life.

If you want to come by our offices in Seattle and high five our very real hands, you’re welcome to! We love new friends.

Are you really sending out free leggings and what’s the catch?

Yes, we are! And we promise — there is no catch. Just like filling up on samples at Costco, buying about 10 boxes of frozen burritos when all you came for was soy milk, we believe that the best way to get to know a product is to try it yourself. And unlike those burritos, our leggings will make you feel great.

Why are you asking me to share this?

Our advertising budget is 100% dedicated to get our leggings into your hands for as little money as possible, without sacrificing our values. So! That means we rely on you guys to spread the word. Trust us, we appreciate it. (We think your friends will love the offer, too).

Ethics & Manufacturing

What's SA8000?

SA8000 is a social accountability standard and certificate developed by Social Accountability International (SAI). This organization created this certification to help and protect workers worldwide by providing a standardized guideline to protect the integrity of workers’ conditions and wages. SA8000 overlaps with Fairtrade certification in factory working conditions, but while Fairtrade is predominantly used for farming, SA8000 is a certification used in factory conditions. Our factories, certified SA8000, use zero forced or child labor, and always provide living wages and safe conditions.

Why Vietnam and not the USA?

You may not know it, but a lot of the best manufacturers for high-performance fabrics are located overseas. We know - we looked. The United States has great manufacturers for basic knitwear, but for our premium activewear the only machines up to the challenge were in Vietnam. Once we found our SA8000 certified manufacturer, we knew it was a match. Quality is everything to us, and we wanted to make sure we gave you the best product at the best price that you could find.

How do we know you’re really fair-trade, and using recycled fabrics?

We want to be as transparent as possible, so let’s give you some resources.

Our factory is SA8000 certified, which you can read about here, and view our certification here. This certification promises that our operation adheres to those super strict regulations that keep factory employees well-paid, safe, and living healthy lives.

Our recycled fabric is certified Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex, the world’s leader in testing fabrics to regulate harmful substances, and make sure every fabric’s origin and contents are totally up front for the consumer. See our certifications here and here.

Are your leggings BPA free?

Yes, they are. And we understand why you’d want to check, because there is a lot of confusion around what kind of plastic there is floating around (pun very much intended). Plastics that contain BPA are polycarbonates, or the type of plastic specifically used in reusable water bottles. Plastic that used to use BPA was meant to last for a long time, like your old Nalgene from 2004.

Our recycled PET is polyethylene terephthalate and is used in single use water bottles and food containers. Not only that, but it has been repeatedly tested over 30 years to for its safety. If it’s safe for your sandwich, it’s safe for your legs.

Is your packaging eco-friendly?

Our packaging for this campaign is 100% recycled and recyclable, so don’t throw it away!

Fit & Fabric

How high rise is the core legging?

The front rise is about 12” from the crotch, which means it should sit above your belly button.

How do you turn water bottles into leggings?

Wizards.
Kidding. We take post consumer water bottles, remove the caps and the labels, and shred the bottles into tiny little chips. From there we process those chips into miniscule, very soft fibers that become our yarn. And that yarn becomes our leggings.

How compressive are they?

The perfect amount. No, seriously. We tested just about every legging out there to find the best blend of spandex to compress your muscles (so they achieve optimum performance), but don’t make you feel tightly bandaged. That way you can wear them to the gym, in the car, on the trails, even out to dinner (you’ll want to dress them up).

What is your sizing like? Is it like Nike or lululemon?

We want to be consistent. If you’re a small in Nike, you’re a small in GFC. Check out our size chart to make sure your measurements line up.

It’s hard to know what “high quality” means without seeing the leggings first. What do you mean by “high quality?”

Have you ever bought leggings for $20 and put them on and realized that they either feel like a plastic bag, or when you bend over you give the world a spontaneous show? Those leggings are low quality.

We believe our high quality comes from four things, and we’ve spent almost a year obsessing over each of them:
Fiber
Fabric
Fit
Construction

Care

How do I wash and take care of these leggings?

To keep them as pretty and tight as the day you got them, wash in cold water and hang dry. Because of our quick-dry fabric, they’ll be ready for you in just a few hours. Not to mention, a spin cycle on cold and hang drying is the best for the environment, and reduces energy use. It’s a win-win.

Shipping

Why aren’t my leggings shipped out immediately after I order?

This is a pre-order. What that means is that every single pair of our leggings is made-to-order. To give you leggings for the cost of shipping we couldn’t have extra stock left over, so we decided to make them as the orders came in to make sure everyone could get them and we could guarantee that we’d have the capital to launch our full line. When we do launch our full line early next year, we will have pre-made stock like normal e-commerce and your product will ship out immediately.

I was wondering, can I track the shipment?

You bet. We hate being in the dark, too. When your order is processed and ready to be shipped from our factory in Vietnam we will send you an email with a general time frame for delivery. After that, once your leggings clear customs, you'll receive a tracking number in your email so you can keep tabs as they finish their journey.

Why is shipping from Vietnam more expensive than shipping from China?

We’re sure you’ve noticed that when you buy something online from China, the shipping rates are either very low, or free. Well, that’s because the Chinese government heavily subsidizes their postage rates to increase imports.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but we have chosen to focus on how our clothes are made, rather than cutting corners. We are using the United States Postal Service for our mailing. This means you’ll get a USPS tracking number. Did you know you can go to the USPS website and calculate what it costs to get a package from Vietnam to your home? The lowest shipping rate comes out to be about $22, which sounds like a lot, but when you look at what you’re saving on the leggings themselves, and how you’re helping to create a sustainable clothing industry, we think it’s worth it.

Heard my friend got shipping for less than 19.95, what gives?

Shipping is definitely based on location, but a few folks did luck out and pay less. Prior to launch, we were running some tests to make sure the site was functioning properly — this was before we had finalized our actual shipping and handling costs (though our estimates were in the same ballpark).

There’s no way shipping is actually $19.95.

It is! We promise. But we know you want to see for yourself, just like we do, so here’s a fun activity.

  1. Go to this USPS shipping calculator where we’ve put in the exact dimensions of our package as it will ship from Vietnam.
  2. Click on “First Class Package International Service” to see the shipping costs.

Will your shipping always be $19.95?

Nope! Once our full collection is available, we’ll operate as a typical e-commerce site, shipping from the US. We are shipping this pre-launch run from Vietnam so you get the leggings as quickly as possible, and we felt it was better to offer you $20 dollar leggings that you can have ASAP. But it’s a limited time offer to get our brand off the ground. Thanks for being there at the beginning.

Why do you charge shipping upfront?

For a couple reasons. We couldn’t justify, as a business that does want to stick around, absorbing the production cost of leggings without a guarantee that shipping was paid for. The other one is that we cannot keep an authorization on a credit card for a very long time! It’s too risky for us and for you. Not to mention, we don’t want to risk drawing from overdrawn accounts, or at a time when you weren’t expecting it (we forget when we bought things online sometimes).

All that being said, we can provide a shipping fee refund up until your order begins to process. We want you to be happy. We just think you’ll be happier with some leggings.

Why are you only shipping to a few countries?

As much as we’d like to, right now we can only ship to Canada, the United Kingdom, the US, and Australia. In the beginning of the promotion we were offering worldwide shipping, but as we went on we realized that it was increasingly unreliable, and not cost effective. Right now the majority of our shipments go the US, which means we get a better rate through USPS. Because we don’t have a high enough number of international orders to match this, we have to re-process every international shipment outside of those three areas. Which means it’s more expensive, more time consuming, and less predictable.

Because we want to do things in the best way, we couldn’t settle for less. We are working right now to find a new method to offer our leggings to people all over the globe, and as soon as we do we will let you know (so follow us on Facebook and Instagram)!

Why is international shipping so expensive? I thought it was based on distance.

Shipping internationally is more expensive than shipping to the US because we are working directly with USPS, and the bulk of our shipments are headed to the US. We will of course continue to look for cheaper options as we move forward with our full line. We are so excited to keep improving, and would love to answer any more of your questions.

How much will the leggings be after this campaign?

We believe that living well and looking great should be easy for everyone, and are committed to having much lower prices than our competitors. And we do this while not sacrificing quality, human rights, or the environment.

Our Core Legging will retail for $70 when our full line launches, and we can’t wait for you to get more.

Can I get more than one pair of leggings?

We created this campaign to get our leggings to as many people as possible, which is why we ask for one pair per email address. Because of this and how we set up our shipping process, we can only package and ship one pair of leggings at a time. Obviously when we launch our full line you can order however many you want and they’ll be sent together.

We love that you want to get more. If you sign up with a different email address for your second pair, we ask that you don’t just share on your Facebook wall but tag as many of your friends who haven’t heard of us as you can.

Returns

What’s your return policy? What if the leggings don’t fit?

When we launch our full line, our return policy will be much more relaxed. For our pre-launch, since we are absorbing the cost of the leggings we are treating every order as a final sale, so all requests for exchanges need to be sent to hello@girlfriend.com where we will review your claim and let you know what we can do. Unless, of course, you receive a damaged product! That’s always returnable.

We are sure we can help you find the perfect fit. Have you checked our sizing chart? We’ve also written a lot about our fit. And if you’re still unsure, let us know.

Our Fabric

Fiber is part of a healthy fashion diet.

If you look at the label inside your leggings it will usually say some version of this:
85% percent polyester 15% spandex/lycra/elastane
or
85% percent nylon 15% spandex/lycra/elastane
Let’s start with the fiber that gives leggings stretch. That 15% spandex/lycra/elastane is really just a yarn that stretches and is a stronger and longer lasting material than rubber. People call it a bunch of different things, but at the core all that stretchy yarn does the same thing - it helps your leggings stretch and bounce back to its original form. Another component that makes up the bulk of your leggings is either Nylon or Polyester. We want you to get to know those more, so read on!

First, Nylon

Nylon, aka polyamide, is a strong fiber known for its silky-soft and lustrous feel. It has been around since 1935 and has many applications outside of clothing including everyday plastic products like fishnets.

The main benefit of nylon in clothing is that it is super strong, wicks away moisture like a champ, and stretches.

The negative impacts of nylon are that it’s known to pill easily (so annoying), and retains more moisture than polyester, even though it is naturally hydrophobic.

We love Polyester

Polyester, aka PET, is also a strong fiber with advances in manufacturing; it now rivals nylon in softness. The fiber is not as strong as nylon, but has better performance in many ways. Polyester resists pilling more than nylon, and outdoes nylon in moisture wicking and quick-drying. Since polyester doesn’t retain water, it is colorfast and does not fade over time like nylon.

Across most performance and activewear, you’ll find a combination of these fibers. Some brands introduce cotton yarn into the mix, and fibers like modal or rayon to achieve a different drape or feel, but what makes performance wear perform are nylon, polyester, and spandex yarns knitted together to make fabric.

The shady business of Lycra.

The brand Lycra is used fairly often in stretch fabrics and is a brand that’s owned by Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the billionaire Koch brothers who are activists in DENYING climate change, and may or may not be the puppet masters behind a lot of lobbyists. Yikes. We’re staying far away from that mess.

What’s our knit?

In stretch fabrics, there are different types of knitting techniques. In general, they end up with what you know as a jersey fabric. Most brands tend to use single jersey around 200 gsm (grams per square meter) to 320 gsm. Leggings from Lululemon or Nike range from lighter weight 200gsm all the way up to 320 gsm (for heavier weight everyday leggings) and they vary depending on different activities. So the Luon fabric is on the heavier end, meant for low sweat activities, versus luxtreme, which is a lighter fabric meant for high-sweat activities.

Single jersey fabric is the most common type of knitwear and is used most often in everything from t-shirts to leggings. Single jersey has two sides, one side the face and the other the back. The face is what you see on the outside of the garment; often smooth and soft, while the backside is dull and rough. If you flip a t-shirt inside out and look carefully, you see and feel the difference.

What goes into our Girlfriend leggings?

We spent months researching and looking at the mills that Lululemon and other luxury activewear companies use. We could have easily bought and used the same fabrics as everyone else and just charged less, but we decided there had to be a way to do this right, have accessible prices, and sleep well at night. So we developed our own custom fabric, using an exact blend of yarns at the exact weight we wanted.

What we ended up with is:
79% recycled micro polyester
21% spandex
260 gsm

Tite Tech

Our polyester yarn is made from 100% recycled post-consumer water bottles. Yes, you read that right. Those $100 leggings that you’ve bought from other brands are now eco-friendly and half the cost.

The micro-denier polyester yarn has the best moisture wicking capabilities. It regulates your body temperature whether you’re working out or not. It’s meant to keep you cool in hot temperatures, and comfortably warm in cold situations.

Using 20% spandex gives the perfect amount of compression for being active, and for everyday wear. The amount of compression in our leggings helps your muscles perform in your high impact activities, but it’s not so compressive that they become uncomfortable when you’re lounging.

Tite Tech is an incredible new fabric that is just as soft and smooth on the inside of the fabric as it is on the outside. It also prevents pilling and is completely opaque.

Beyond Recycling

What goes into our stuff is as good as how it looks.

In 2014, 48.8% of all clothing imported into the US was made of synthetic materials and yarns, higher than at any other time in the last 20 years. Why? Well, because crude oil prices have gone down, while demand for active and performance fabrics has gone up. So how do we fix this? We use only recycled materials or RPET.

Some benefits of RPET

  • 85% less energy than regular polyester
  • 65% less sulfur dioxide than regular polyester
  • 90% less water usage than regular polyester
  • RPET fabric has a 50% lower carbon footprint than the organic cotton
  • RPET polyester fabric has almost a 90% lower carbon footprint than nylon

Certified Bluesign®


Girlfriend Collective’s fabric is so proud to be Bluesign® certified. All manufacturers who become partners with Bluesign® agree to ensure high environmental safety and performance in five areas: consumer safety (everything in our leggings is super safe), resource productivity, water emissions, air emissions, and workplace health and safety. Guess what? As a partner, we’ve proven that we reach those standards, will continue to send reports, and promise to open our facilities up to on-site audits. Learn more about Bluesign®.

Our SA8000 Factory

Humane factory conditions and wages for all.

It’s time to make a stand. It is inexcusable when brands have underage workers, unsafe conditions, or underpaid employees in their factories. Thankfully, we found a partner that has already taken a stand by insisting on being a SA8000 certified factory in the country of Vietnam. What this means is that the factory needs to be audited and comply with these requirements:

1. CHILD LABOUR
1.1 The organisation shall not engage in or support the use of child labour as defined above.

1.2 The organisation shall establish, document, maintain and effectively communicate to personnel and other interested parties, written policies and procedures for remediation of child labourers, and shall provide adequate financial and other support to enable such children to attend and remain in school until no longer a child as defined above.

1.3 The organisation may employ young workers, but where such young workers are subject to compulsory education laws, they shall work only outside of school hours. Under no circumstances shall any young worker’s school, work and transportation time exceed a combined total of 10 hours per day, and in no case shall young workers work more than 8 hours a day. Young workers may not work during night hours.

1.4 The organisation shall not expose children or young workers to any situations – in or outside of the workplace – that are hazardous or unsafe to their physical and mental health and development.

2. FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOUR
2.1 The organisation shall not engage in or support the use of forced or compulsory labour, including prison labour, as defined in Convention 29, shall not retain original identification papers and shall not require personnel to pay ‘deposits’ to the organisation upon commencing employment.

2.2 Neither the organisation nor any entity supplying labour to the organisation shall withhold any part of any personnel’s salary, benefits, property or documents in order to force such personnel to continue working for the organisation.

2.3 The organisation shall ensure that no employment fees or costs are borne in whole or in part by workers.

2.4 Personnel shall have the right to leave the workplace premises after completing the standard workday and be free to terminate their employment provided that they give reasonable notice to their organisation.

2.5 Neither the organisation nor any entity supplying labour to the organisation shall engage in or support human trafficking.

3. HEALTH AND SAFETY
3.1 The organisation shall provide a safe and healthy workplace environment and shall take effective steps to prevent potential health and safety incidents and occupational injury or illness arising out of, associated with or occurring in the course of work. It shall minimise or eliminate, so far as is reasonably practicable, the causes of all hazards in the workplace environment, based upon the prevailing safety and health knowledge of the industry sector and of any specific hazards.

3.2 The organisation shall assess all the workplace risks to new, expectant and nursing mothers including those arising out of their work activity, to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to remove or reduce any risks to their health and safety.

3.3 Where hazards remain after effective minimisation or elimination of the causes of all hazards in the workplace environment, the organisation shall provide personnel with appropriate personal protective equipment as needed at its own expense. In the event of a work-related injury the organisation shall provide first aid and assist the worker in obtaining follow-up medical treatment.

3.4 The organisation shall appoint a senior management representative to be responsible for ensuring a safe and healthy workplace environment for all personnel and for implementing this Standard’s Health and Safety requirements.

3.5 A Health and Safety Committee, comprised of a well-balanced group of management representatives and workers, shall be established and maintained. Unless otherwise specified by law, at least one worker member(s) on the Committee shall be by recognised trade union(s) representative(s), if they choose to serve. In cases where the union(s) does not appoint a representative or the organisation is not unionised, workers shall appoint a representative(s) as they deem appropriate. Its decisions shall be effectively communicated to all personnel. The Committee shall be trained and retrained periodically in order to be competently committed to continually improving the health and safety conditions in the workplace. It shall conduct formal, periodic occupational health and safety risk assessments to identify and then address current and potential health and safety hazards. Records of these assessments and corrective and preventive actions taken shall be kept.

3.6 The organisation shall provide to personnel, on a regular basis, effective health and safety training, including on-site training and, where needed, job-specific training. Such training shall also be repeated for new and reassigned personnel, where incidents have occurred, and when changes in technology and/or the introduction of new machinery present new risks to the health and safety of personnel.

3.7 The organisation shall establish documented procedures to detect, prevent, minimise, eliminate or otherwise respond to potential risks to the health and safety of personnel. The organisation shall maintain written records of all health and safety incidents that occur in the workplace and in all residences and property provided by the organisation, whether it owns, leases or contracts the residences or property from a service provider.

3.8 The organisation shall provide, for use by all personnel, free access to: clean toilet facilities, potable water, suitable spaces for meal breaks, and, where applicable, sanitary facilities for food storage.

3.9 The organisation shall ensure that any dormitory facilities provided for personnel are clean, safe and meet their basic needs, whether it owns, leases or contracts the dormitories from a service provider.

3.10 All personnel shall have the right to remove themselves from imminent serious danger without seeking permission from the organisation.

4. FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION & RIGHT TO COLLECTIVE BARGAINING
4.1 All personnel shall have the right to form, join and organise trade union(s) of their choice and to bargain collectively on their behalf with the organisation. The organisation shall respect this right and shall effectively inform personnel that they are free to join a worker organisation of their choosing without any negative consequences or retaliation from the organisation. The organisation shall not interfere in any way with the establishment, functioning or administration of workers’ organisation(s) or collective bargaining.

4.2 In situations where the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining are restricted under law, the organisation shall allow workers to freely elect their own representatives.

4.3 The organisation shall ensure that union members, representatives of workers and any personnel engaged in organising workers are not subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation or retaliation for being union members, representative(s) of workers or engaged in organising workers, and that such representatives have access to their members in the Workplace.

5. DISCRIMINATION
5.1 The organisation shall not engage in or support discrimination in hiring, remuneration, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, national or territorial or social origin, caste, birth, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, marital status, union membership, political opinions, age or any other condition that could give rise to discrimination.

5.2 The organisation shall not interfere with the exercise of personnel’s rights to observe tenets or practices or to meet needs relating to race, national or social origin, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, union membership, political opinions or any other condition that could give rise to discrimination.

5.3 The organisation shall not allow any behaviour that is threatening, abusive, exploitative or sexually coercive, including gestures, language and physical contact, in the workplace and in all residences and property provided by the organisation, whether it owns, leases or contracts the residences or property from a service provider.

5.4 The organisation shall not subject personnel to pregnancy or virginity tests under any Circumstances.

6. DISCIPLINARY PRACTICES
6.1 The organisation shall treat all personnel with dignity and respect. The organisation shall not engage in or tolerate the use of corporal punishment, mental or physical coercion or verbal abuse of personnel. No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed.

7. WORKING HOURS
7.1 The organisation shall comply with applicable laws, collective bargaining agreements (where applicable) and industry standards on working hours, breaks and public holidays. The normal work week, not including overtime, shall be defined by law but shall not exceed 48 hours.

7.2 Personnel shall be provided with at least one day off following every six consecutive days of working. Exceptions to this rule apply only where both of the following conditions exist:
a) National law allows work time exceeding this limit; and
b) A freely negotiated collective bargaining agreement is in force that allows work time averaging, including adequate rest periods.

7.3 All overtime work shall be voluntary, except as provided in 7.4 below, shall not exceed 12 hours per week and shall not be requested on a regular basis.

7.4 In cases where overtime work is needed in order to meet short-term business demand and the organisation is party to a freely negotiated collective bargaining agreement representing a significant portion of its workforce, the organisation may require such overtime work in.

8. REMUNERATION
Criteria:
8.1 The organisation shall respect the right of personnel to a living wage and ensure that wages for a normal work week, not including overtime, shall always meet at least legal or industry minimum standards, or collective bargaining agreements (where applicable). Wages shall be sufficient to meet the basic needs of personnel and to provide some discretionary income.

8.2 The organisation shall not make deductions from wages for disciplinary purposes. Exception to this rule applies only when both of the following conditions exist:
a) Deductions from wages for disciplinary purposes are permitted by national law; and
b) A freely negotiated collective bargaining agreement is in force that permits this practice.

8.3 The organisation shall ensure that personnel’s wages and benefits composition are detailed clearly and regularly to them in writing for each pay period. The organisation shall lawfully render all wages and benefits due in a manner convenient to workers, but in no circumstances in delayed or restricted forms, such as vouchers, coupons or promissory notes.

8.4 All overtime shall be reimbursed at a premium rate as defined by national law or established by a collective bargaining agreement. In countries where a premium rate for overtime is not regulated by law or there is no collective bargaining agreement, personnel shall be compensated for overtime at the organisation’s premium rate or at a premium rate equal to prevailing industry standards, whichever is higher.

8.5 The organisation shall not use labour-only contracting arrangements, consecutive short-term contracts and/or false apprenticeship or other schemes to avoid meeting its obligations to personnel under applicable laws and regulations pertaining to labour and social security.

9. MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
9.1 Policies, Procedures and Records

9.1.1 Senior management shall write a policy statement to inform personnel, in all appropriate languages, that it has chosen to comply with SA8000.

9.1.2 This policy statement shall include the organisation’s commitment to conform to all requirements of the SA8000 Standard and to respect the international instruments as listed in the previous section on Normative Elements and Their Interpretation. The statement shall also commit the organisation to comply with: national laws, other applicable laws and other requirements to which the organisation subscribes.

9.1.3 This policy statement and the SA8000 Standard shall be prominently and conspicuously displayed, in appropriate and comprehensible form, in the workplace and in residences and property provided by the organisation, whether it owns, leases or contracts the residences or property from a service provider.

9.1.4 The organisation shall develop policies and procedures to implement the SA8000 Standard.

9.1.5 These policies and procedures shall be effectively communicated and made accessible to personnel in all appropriate languages. These communications shall also be clearly shared with customers, suppliers, sub-contractors and sub-suppliers.

9.1.6 The organisation shall maintain appropriate records to demonstrate conformance to and implementation of the SA8000 standard, including the Management System requirements contained in this element. Associated records shall be kept and written or oral summaries given to the SA8000 worker representative(s).

9.1.7 The organisation shall regularly conduct a management review of its policy statement, policies, procedures implementing this Standard and performance results, in order to continually improve.

9.1.8 The organisation shall make its policy statement publicly available in an effective form and manner to interested parties, upon request.

9.2 Social Performance Team
9.2.1 A Social Performance Team (SPT) shall be established to implement all elements of SA8000. The Team shall include a balanced representation of:
a) SA8000 worker representative(s); and
b) management.
Compliance accountability for the Standard shall solely rest with Senior Management.

9.2.2 In unionised facilities, worker representation on the SPT shall be by recognised trade union(s) representative(s), if they choose to serve. In cases where the union(s) does not appoint a representative or the organisation is not unionised, workers may freely elect one or more SA8000 worker representative(s) from among themselves for this purpose. In no circumstances shall the SA8000 worker representative(s) be seen as a substitute for trade union representation.

9.3 Identification and Assessment of Risks
9.3.1 The SPT shall conduct periodic written risk assessments to identify and prioritise the areas of actual or potential non-conformance to this Standard. It shall also recommend actions to Senior Management that address these risks. Actions to address these risks shall be prioritised according to their severity or where a delay in responding would make it impossible to address.

9.3.2 The SPT shall conduct these assessments based on their recommended data and data collection techniques and in meaningful consultation with interested parties.

9.4 Monitoring
9.4.1 The SPT shall effectively monitor workplace activities for:
a) compliance with this Standard;
b) implementation of actions to effectively address the risks identified by the SPT; and
c) for the effectiveness of systems implemented to meet the organisation’s policies and the requirements of this Standard.
It shall have the authority to collect information from or include interested parties (stakeholders) in its monitoring activities. It shall also liaise with other departments to study, define, analyse and/or address any possible non-conformance(s) to the SA8000 Standard.

9.4.2 The SPT shall also facilitate routine internal audits and produce reports for senior management on the performance and benefits of actions taken to meet the SA8000 Standard, including a record of corrective and preventive actions identified.

9.4.3 The SPT shall also hold periodic meetings to review progress and identify potential actions to strengthen implementation of the Standard.

9.5 Internal Involvement and Communication
9.5.1 The organisation shall demonstrate that personnel effectively understand the requirements of SA8000, and shall regularly communicate the requirements of SA8000 through routine communications.

9.6 Complaint Management and Resolution
9.6.1 The organisation shall establish a written grievance procedure that is confidential, unbiased, non-retaliatory and accessible and available to personnel and interested parties to make comments, recommendations, reports or complaints concerning the workplace and/or non-conformances to the SA8000 Standard.

9.6.2 The organisation shall have procedures for investigating, following up on and communicating the outcome of complaints concerning the workplace and/or non-conformances to this Standard or of its implementing policies and procedures. These results shall be freely available to all personnel and, upon request, to interested parties.

9.6.3 The organisation shall not discipline, dismiss or otherwise discriminate against any personnel or interested party for providing information on SA8000 compliance or for making other workplace complaints.

9.7 External Verification and Stakeholder Engagement
9.7.1 In the case of announced and unannounced audits for the purpose of certifying its compliance with the requirements of this Standard, the organisation shall fully cooperate with external auditors to determine the severity and frequency of any problems that arise in meeting the SA8000 Standard.

9.7.2 The organisation shall participate in stakeholder engagement in order to attain sustainable compliance with the SA8000 Standard.

9.8 Corrective and Preventive Actions
9.8.1 The organisation shall formulate policies and procedures for the prompt implementation of corrective and preventive actions and shall provide adequate resources for them. The SPT shall ensure that these actions are effectively implemented.

9.8.2 The SPT shall maintain records, including timelines, that list, at minimum, non-conformances related to SA8000, their root causes, the corrective and preventive actions taken and implementation results.

9.9 Training and Capacity Building
9.9.1 The organisation shall implement a training plan for all personnel to effectively implement the SA8000 Standard as informed by the results of risk assessments. The organisation shall periodically measure the effectiveness of training and record their nature and frequency.

9.10 Management of Suppliers and Contractors
9.10.1 The organisation shall conduct due diligence on its suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers’ compliance with the SA8000 Standard. The same due diligence approach shall be applied when selecting new suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers. The minimum activities for the organisation to fulfil this requirement shall be recorded and shall include:
a) effectively communicating the requirements of this Standard to senior leadership of suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers;
b) assessing significant risks of non-conformance by suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers. [Note: an explanation of “significant risk” is found in the guidance document];
c) making reasonable efforts to ensure that these significant risks are adequately addressed by suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers and by the organisation where and when appropriate, and prioritised according to the organisation’s ability and resources to influence these entities; [Note: an explanation of “reasonable effort” is found in the guidance document]; and
d) establishing monitoring activities and tracking performance of suppliers/subcontractors, private employment agencies and sub-suppliers to ensure that these significant risks are effectively addressed.

9.10 Management of Suppliers and Contractors
9.10.2 Where the organisation receives, handles or promotes goods and/or services from suppliers/subcontractors or sub-suppliers who are classified as home workers, the organisation shall take effective actions to ensure that such home workers are afforded a level of protection substantially equivalent to that afforded to the organisation’s other workers under the requirements of this Standard.

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