The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


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Case study: How Inditex empowers women in its supply chain

As the world’s largest fashion group, operating 7,475 stores in 96 markets across the globe, Inditex is fully aware of the importance of women in its supply chain  Tweet This! – in which they occupy the majority of jobs at all stages of production –, and seeks to take further steps towards gender equality and women’s empowerment.

This case study is based on the 2017 Annual Report by Inditex published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

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In 2017, Inditex’s supply chain included over 1,800 suppliers and 7,000 non-exclusive factories, employing more than 2 million people – most of them women. Working to make sure that all of the women in its supply chain can enjoy the best conditions and the same opportunities as men is, thus, a top priority for Inditex. In order to empower women in its supply chain Inditex took action to:

  • implement a Women Empowerment Strategy in the Supply Chain
  • promote women’s health
  • prevent discrimination, harassment and abuse
  • improve the quality of life and work of women

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2017 Annual Report Inditex identified a range of material issues, such as responsible purchasing practices, health and safety of suppliers and manufacturers, product quality, health and safety, diversity and inclusion. Among these, empowering women in its supply chain stands out as a key material issue for Inditex.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards              

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The reporting organization shall identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations and interests.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Inditex engages with:

Stakeholder Group                Method of engagement





·      Ethics Committee

·      UNI Global Union Agreement

·      Internal training and promotion

·      Internal communications

·      Volunteer programme




·      Specialised customer care teams

·      Brick-and-mortar and online stores

·      Social networks

·      Product quality, health and safety team



·      Clusters of suppliers

·      Ethics Committee

·      Commercial and sustainability teams

·      Global Framework Agreement with IndustriALL



·      Social Advisory Board

·      Cooperation with NGOs

·      Sponsorship and Patronage Committee



·      General Shareholders’ Meeting

·      Sustainability indexes

·      Investors relations

Environment ·      Social Advisory Board

·      Commitments with NGOs

·      Environmental sustainability teams

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Inditex carried out a materiality analysis, presenting various topics to internal and external stakeholders for them to assess their importance.

What actions were taken by Inditex to empower women in its supply chain?

In its 2017 Annual Report Inditex reports that it took the following actions for empowering women in its supply chain:

  • Implementing a Women Empowerment Strategy in the Supply Chain
  • Inditex developed its women empowerment strategy using continual improvement tools complemented by a gender perspective that makes it possible to impact sensitive issues affecting women and, also, develop specific actions and practices concerning gender. To this end, Inditex created programmes to eradicate gender inequity and support the empowerment of women, forming partnerships and taking into account the social and cultural context women live and work in, developing specific actions for the different countries where Inditex
  • Promoting women’s health
  • In 2014, Inditex initiated a project in Morocco in collaboration with the NGO Medicus Mundi Andalucía, to improve the social and health situation of the workers of Inditex’s suppliers in Morocco. The programme covers 13 factories and had, in 2017, a total of 1,129 direct beneficiaries. In 2017, Inditex collaborated with the local association Unión de la Acción Feminista, to provide training in five of the factories within the project on rights related to women’s occupational health. In addition, Inditex implements the project entitled Sakhi (which means “friend” in Hindi) in India, which is structured into two parts, encompassing two fundamental aspects of the situation of women in India. One of these is health, and that is the focus of Sakhi Health. Relevant activities have already taken place in the three factories forming part of the project in collaboration with St. John’s Medical College, benefiting a total of 2,700 workers.
  • Preventing discrimination, harassment and abuse
  • Inditex implements the Sowbhagyam project in India’s Tamil Nadu state, to raise awareness and educate communities, job agencies and other stakeholders on labour rights, avoiding the use of abusive employment practices against women. The project was initiated in 2013 and includes training sessions provided by the local NGO SAVE to all members of the community. During the fourth year of its implementation, these community awareness-raising activities continued, accompanied by further awareness raising in schools for teachers, children and parents. In 2017, over 11,000 people benefited, directly or indirectly, from this project. Additionally, the second pillar of the Sakhi project tackles the prevention of situations of abuse or harassment in factories through the Sakhi Gender Equity programme, developed in collaboration with the organisation SWASTI. In 2017, Inditex analysed workplace practices in 18 factories employing a total of 11,653 people, to understand the issues women face at work.
  • Improving the quality of life and work of women
  • In 2016, Inditex initiated a pilot project in a factory in Turkey, whose first phase consisted in analysing and understanding the possible causes of gender discrimination in factories. Based on the results obtained, the second phase of the project started in 2017. This second phase involved holding eight training sessions in the factory to raise awareness among its 277 workers, of which 85% were women. The training was divided into two modules. The first aimed to raise awareness of gender equality among workers. The second module focused on preventing harassment and discrimination at work. In this way, the overall training aimed to improve the quality of life and work of the women, and raise awareness among factory management of the rights of their female workers.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 413-1 Operations with local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs

Disclosure 413-1 Operations with local community engagement, impact assessments, and development programs does not correspond to any SDG.


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1) This case study is based on published information by Inditex, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:


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