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Ethical Trading


The many craftspeople across the world who create our products are fundamental to our business and our industry more broadly.

We are deeply committed to protecting the rights of these workers, nurturing and preserving their skills and enhancing their wellbeing and livelihoods.

We review our key supply chain partners on a regular basis, considering criteria such as volume, value, unique capabilities, investment in research, development and transparency, as well as ensuring they are operating in line with Burberry’s social and environmental standards. Our Responsible Business Principles, including the Burberry Ethical Trading Code of Conduct, Migrant Worker and Homeworker Policy, are underpinned by the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organization.

We have had an Ethical Trading Programme in place since 2004, which monitors our supply chain partners’ compliance with local laws and Burberry’s Responsible Business Principles. It is Burberry’s policy that before a factory is approved to produce Burberry finished goods, our Responsibility team must be satisfied that the factory meets international labour laws and is committed to our Responsible Business Principles. We work with suppliers to encourage continuous improvement in line with our Ethical Trading Code of Conduct, a code of labour practice based on conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) including payment of the living wage.

To ensure compliance with our Responsible Business Principles, our ethical trading programme comprises announced and unannounced audits, monitoring and improvement programmes, and covers all finished goods vendors, sub-contractors and key raw material suppliers. Audits consist of a site tour focusing on health and safety, documentation review and worker interviews. A representative sample of workers are selected for interview, including, where relevant, union representatives, first aiders and migrant workers.  Our audit methodology prescribes that at least 10% of the workforce are selected for interview and interviews can take place off-site when required. Audits are repeated periodically to monitor ongoing compliance and continuous improvement. The frequency of audits depends on a factory’s performance, with high-performing factories audited less frequently.

These audits include site tours to review health and safety standards, a review of relevant documentation and confidential interviews with workers, including, where relevant, union representatives, first aiders and migrant workers. These steps are designed to ascertain and verify, amongst other points, the age of the workers and the procedures in place to ensure no children are working at the factory. Between audits, our Responsibility team works closely with facilities to implement preventative systems and improve the management of human rights and safety procedures, amongst others.

During the FY 2021/22, we conducted 601 audits and 28 engagement activities to support our partners in building stronger human resource management systems, reducing working hours, introducing innovative worker engagement and wellbeing programmes and providing access to confidential support.

In addition to the formal audits, our Ethical Trading teams visit our suppliers on a regular basis, engaging with both management and workers to review performance and drive improvements. With our Ethical Trading Programme evolving year-on-year, we are increasingly focusing on how we can make the most meaningful, positive impacts on the lives of people throughout our supply chain.

The majority of Ethical Trading audits and visits are carried out by our own in-house teams in order to safeguard the consistency and quality of the results, as well as enabling us to build strong relationships with suppliers. Audits are conducted against international labour standards, local laws and regulations, and our Ethical Trading Code of Conduct.

We also provide grievance mechanisms for our global employees, as well as confidential hotlines run by NGOs for workers in our supply chain. During FY 2021/22, Burberry-sponsored hotlines received 435 calls and their resolutions have been monitored closely by our Responsibility team.

All of the factories we work with in Italy, including our own manufacturing facility in Tuscany, are part of the National and Industrial Collective Bargaining Agreements and many have established union representation enabling workers to remain informed and involved in discussions about their rights.

The Burberry Vendor Ownership Programme

In Italy and the UK, where our top finished goods vendors use sub-contractors for some production, we have designed a programme to help them introduce their own ethical trade monitoring programmes into their network. 


There are several phases to the programme which include: engagement, commitment, training, management and validation.  


During the engagement phase, Burberry discusses the aims of the programme with the vendor, its scope and the time and resource required to implement the programme.


The next phase involves  the vendor committing to the programme of work, assigning adequate resource and committing to take responsibility for the monitoring of its subcontractor supply chain.


Once the vendor has made this commitment, the Burberry Responsibility team work closely with the vendor by providing desktop and face-to-face training on ethical trade auditing, monitoring, engagement activities and continuous improvement in working conditions.


Vendors are also encouraged to undertake additional formal training such as SA8000 or WRAP lead social auditing courses to complement the training they receive from Burberry. The dedicated corporate responsibility personnel of the vendor then shadow several audits and engagement activities conducted by the Burberry Responsibility audit team and over time, the vendor will start to lead audits themselves, with the support of the Burberry Responsibility audit team.


Within the management phase of the programme the vendor takes responsibility for scheduling the audit and engagement activities at their subcontractor sites, prioritised by the level of risk which is indicated by Burberry’s risk assessment and the facility’s previous audit grading. The activities conducted by the vendor are continuously reviewed and monitored by Burberry.


Finally, when Burberry is satisfied that the vendor is adequately trained in auditing, monitoring, engagement and continuous improvement activities and is meeting Burberry’s standards in terms of their performance in undertaking these activities, they will move into the validation phase. In the validation phase the vendor conducts audits at its subcontractor facilities without the supervision of Burberry.


Burberry has an assessment system to evaluate vendors’ performance in the programme and we shadow a sample of audits in a sample of facilities over the course of a year to ensure that the vendor’s audit results are consistent with Burberry’s assessment of the facility.