Who We Are
What We Do
What We Do
Conducting Unannounced Audits
Columbia employs a team of specialists in the field to conduct regular, unannounced audits of our suppliers against our SMP. All our audits are strictly unannounced, that is, the factory is not notified in advance when an audit will take place. That allows us to see the factory conditions as they are on a typical day.
Watch a quick six minute video to see what our team does during a factory visit. The video takes you through meeting with the local factory management, touring the facility, talking to workers and lastly, concludes with Columbia’s continuous improvement approach to corporate responsibility.
Monitoring alone is not enough. We promote sustainable solutions through consulting and training projects for factory managers and workers. At some factories, we train workers on their rights, how to report grievances confidentially and without fear of retaliation, and how to calculate their pay and benefits. At other factories, we advise management on how to set up stronger human resource management systems. These projects help suppliers find their own solutions that fit the local context and that will therefore be more lasting.
We also engage the communities in which our manufacturing partners operate. We believe that helping factory workers better their lives extends beyond what takes place at the factory. We participate in long-term projects, like providing health education through the HERProject, as well as short-term assistance, like donating products and time to disaster relief such as the China earthquake. More information about our Giving Program can be found under Giving Back.
Our approach to working with others
Social responsibility is not a statement, it’s a conversation. It’s about engaging others in the industry for continuous improvement.
Columbia collaborates with other apparel and footwear brands who share our CR approach and whose products are produced in the same factories as ours. At any given time, a factory could be making shirts for ten different companies in the US and Europe, each with its own code of conduct. By sharing audit findings with these other companies, we can reduce redundant auditing and focus on finding solutions.
We also participate in industry-wide initiatives and organizations to explore how we can address complex questions around corporate responsibility as an industry. Please read more in the Industry section.
Sustainability efforts in our facilities and operations
Columbia’s sustainability program works to reduce the impact on the environment from our facilities and operations, as well as inspiring others to do the same. The focus is on reducing upstream impacts, such as energy and materials usage, then responsibly managing downstream waste.
We’ve installed solar panels at our headquarters in Portland, Oregon. You can also read what the Portland Business Journal thought about our solar panels: Portland Business Journal article.
Environmental initiatives with our factories
The goals of Columbia ‘s Environment, Health & Safety (EHS) program are to further develop our own staff to effectively monitor for factory conditions harmful to a worker’s health and safety, enhance our monitoring of factory environmental performance, and identify opportunities to reduce the impact of manufacturing operations on the environment. Many EHS efforts are facilitated through collaboration with other brands, business partners, and government agencies.
We have multiple factories participating in the Hong Kong Productivity Council’s Cleaner Production Partnership Program. This program encourages Hong Kong-owned factories operating in the Pearl River Delta region of China to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions from their operations.
Find out more information about the Cleaner Production Partnership Program (CPPP or CP3) of the Hong Kong Productivity Council. HK Productivity Council CPPP
Columbia is a proud affiliate of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) as a Collegiate Licensee, Category B. The FLA is an independent nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of factory workers and providing independent monitoring of factory conditions. FLA is governed by a multi-stakeholder board with equal representation of companies, universities, and civil society organizations. The organization provides a forum where companies can exchange ideas with universities and nonprofits that share a commitment to ethical sourcing. For more information about the FLA, please visit www.fairlabor.org.
Columbia’s collegiate apparel and equipment is subjected to FLA’s rigorous Independent External Monitoring (IEM) process. Our program is also informed by FLA guidance on challenging issues such as effective grievance systems and migrant labor.
In the outdoor industry, Columbia belongs to the Sustainability Council of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). These global CR issues cannot be tackled by a single company working alone. Working together, companies in the outdoor industry can have a much greater impact on factory labor conditions and environmental issues.
Columbia is also active with the Environmental and the Social Responsibility Committees of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, creating an even larger base of expertise from which to learn and share information and best practices.