ASOS calls for implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation

ASOS calls for implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation

ASOS calls for implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation

Global online fashion retailer also becomes first fashion brand to include external NGO commentary in fifth Modern Slavery Statement

LONDON, 28 April 2021: ASOS, one of the world’s leading online fashion retailers, today calls for the implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation in the UK in order to strengthen the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, as part of the publication of its fifth Modern Slavery Statement, available to read here.

Such legislation, currently being developed  by the European Commission for the EU, would if introduced in the UK ensure that companies must take steps to prevent and mitigate risks and protect vulnerable people within supply chains in line with their responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles, and would require businesses to disclose these actions and be held to account for taking them. In an accompanying article, published today in The Times Red Box and available to read in full  here, ASOS CEO Nick Beighton explains why ASOS would support such legislation to drive up standards, alongside targeted interventions such as a UK garment manufacturer licensing scheme.

Today’s publication also means ASOS has become the first fashion company globally to include independent NGO commentary in its Modern Slavery Statement, provided by the oldest international human rights organisation in the world, Anti-Slavery International. The commentary (available on page 17) focusses on Anti-Slavery International’s views on the challenges faced by the fashion industry and garment manufacturers  during the COVID-19 pandemic and the steps brands and retailers must take to address modern slavery risks throughout global supply chains. Anti-Slavery International has acted as a ‘critical friend’ and advised ASOS on its modern slavery policies, in-country programme work and practices since 2017.

ASOS’ fifth Modern Slavery Statement covers the modern slavery risks identified and actions taken by ASOS from February 2020 to January 2021.1 It details the measures implemented by ASOS to ensure people in its global supply chain have been protected during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the steps taken to ensure UK brand partners sign up to the Transparency Pledge and the Fast Forward auditing programme, co-founded by ASOS in 2014 to tackle problems with UK garment manufacturing supply chains.

Other key areas of activity featured include the continued operation of the Migrant Resource Centre in Mauritius, currently funded by the UK  Home Office’s Modern Slavery Innovation Fund and part of a joint project between ASOS, Anti-Slavery International, IndustriALL Global Union and local affiliates2; the publication and distribution of a human rights handbook for workers in Bulgaria with local IndustriALL affiliates; and the steps the company has taken to further strengthen its internal policies and procedures in order to protect workers and support suppliers in complying with its standards.

ASOS CEO Nick Beighton said: “We’re proud to have today published our fifth Modern Slavery Statement and to have continued our commitment to transparency, honesty and openness in our reporting. There is absolutely no place for modern slavery in today’s world, and after an incredibly challenging year for the fashion industry and for garment workers worldwide, all companies and brands must now share the risks they have identified and the actions they have taken to ensure we can work together to deliver effective change. We’re incredibly grateful to Anti-Slavery International for providing commentary and constructive challenge for this year’s statement and look forward to continuing our partnership as we seek to drive further change over the years to come.”

Anti-Slavery International CEO Jasmine O’Connor OBE said: “We’re proud to be working with ASOS to encourage the company to make sure its customers can be sure their clothes aren’t tainted by human rights abuses. We welcome ASOS’ call for a new UK law to hold companies to account when they fail to prevent human rights abuses. We hope other UK companies across all sectors follow ASOS’ leadership, and that the UK Government responds to the growing calls from civil society, trade unions and business to go beyond the Modern Slavery Act and introduce stronger laws.”



Notes to editors

1 As a result, the statement does not cover the steps that ASOS is taking with regards to the supply chains of recently  acquired brands, Topshop, Topman,  Miss Selfridge and HIIT. More detail on the actions the company is taking with regards to these supply chains and our commitment to supply chain disclosure for the first time by the end of 2021 is available to read here.

2 This project marks the first time brands, NGOs and trade unions have worked together to provide access to remedy for vulnerable workers, supported by the development of an internationally-recognised, independent and credible grievance mechanism. For more information, head to page 24 of the Modern Slavery Statement.

About ASOS

ASOS is an online retailer for fashion-loving 20-somethings around the world, with a purpose to give its customers the confidence to be whoever they want to be. Through its market-leading app and mobile/desktop web experience, available in ten languages and in over 200 markets, ASOS customers can shop a curated edit of 85,000 products, sourced from 850 of the best global and local third-party brands and its mix of fashion-led in-house labels – ASOS Design, ASOS Edition, ASOS 4505, ASOS Luxe, As You, Collusion, Reclaimed Vintage, Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and HIIT. ASOS aims to give all of its customers a truly frictionless experience, with an ever- greater number of different payment methods and hundreds of local deliveries and returns options, including Next-Day and Same-Day Delivery, dispatched from state-of- the-art fulfilment centres in the UK, US and Germany.

ASOS's websites attracted 248.6m visits during February 2021 (February 2020: 214.1m), and as at 28 February 2021 had 24.9m active customers (29 February 2020: 22.3m), of which 7.8m were located in the UK, and 17.1m were located in international territories (29 February 2020: 6.8m in the UK and 15.5m internationally).

About Fashion With Integrity

ASOS’ corporate responsibility programme, Fashion with Integrity drives its transparent, responsible and inclusive approach to business. It’s how ASOS works as a business, and with its third-party brands and partners, to transform the impact of fashion on people, animals and the environment. The four Fashion With Integrity pillars - Our Products, Our People, Our Customers and Our Community - feed into ASOS’ core business strategy and into how every ASOSer does their job.

Read more here.

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