H&M Sustainable Labor Review

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Sustainability is a blanket term focused on attaining the needs of the current global population without interfering with the capability of future generations to meet their everyday consumption needs. The concept of sustainability is a deep focus on the necessary resources to enable the population to live comfortable lives without engaging in wasteful practices (Raigrodski, 2016). The survival ability of future generations is greatly dependent on the way the current civilization treats our planet. In current consumerist living practices, we find a large percentage of the population misusing energy resources, polluting the environment, and purchasing more products than they need. This engages waste and dumping.

The Pillars of Sustainability

The World Summit on Social Development in 2005 acknowledged three core pillars concerning sustainability (Sorrell, 2018). These core areas are essential to solving the sustainability problem as they focus on the core areas that determine the state of the world. These pillars of sustainability include:

Economic Development

This is a controversial issue concerning sustainability in a global sense. Most organizations and facilities disagree on the sustainability practices that would provide for economic longevity and better business practices in the global sense. These, however, must regard the promotion of certain incentives toward the decrease of consumerist culture and focus on purposeful production and spending. Therefore, the economic factors will be heavily reliant on each organization having ethical practices that are similar to others to promote uniform business practices.

Social Development

This pillar of sustainability is focused on raising awareness and protection of the current global citizens to pave the way for a more humanitarian population. The protection of the people from harmful practices and environments is a key aspect of sustainability. The provision of living quarters that do not compromise the environment is an essential factor concerned with sustainability. This is done in a way of promoting goodwill for people, especially their workers. This can be promoted through the enforcement of labor laws. Additionally, education and training fall into this level of sustainability.

Environmental Protection

Environmental protection is the most widely acknowledged form of sustainability in today’s world. This is through the protection of water sources across the globe. The prevention of littering and the reduction of the carbon footprint of individuals and organizations is a key focal point of sustainable living that promotes healthy consumption and the preservation of global resources. These are focused on preserving resources, which may fall in line with recycling, anti-plastic policies, and the reduction of waste.

History of the Organization

The organization in focus is currently H&M the organization is formally known as Hennes and Mauritz AB. The Swedish clothing organization was founded in 1947 where it was initially known as Hennes, which is Swedish for hers. The founder of the organization Erling Persson was mainly aiming at selling and producing clothing for people who identify as female. The founder attained a new space in 1968 which came with a significant stock of hinting equipment (Timpone, 2016). The store attained was known as Mauritz Widfross and contained male clothing. Therefore, he renamed the business Hennes and Mauritz.

The business has been in operation for over five decades and is well known for providing affordable clothing to the people of the world. The organization currently has over 5000 stores in over 25 countries globally and employs over 50000 people directly and thousands of other persons through the clothing suppliers in the Asian nations.

The organization’s success can be attributed to the numerous suppliers globally who provide the much-needed clothing and supplies to the company. The organization also provides affordable clothing resources to all citizens, therefore ensuring that its products have a large fan base. The organization also has to worry about sustainability and the possibility of fair consumption in the global scope. The following research paper shall look into the aspect of social sustainability upheld by H&M. the organization’s ability to revolutionize labor practices is a great strength that need not be overlooked.

Social Development and H&M

The labor practices within the Asian continent have for a long period been deplorable. The use of child labor, low payment of the staff, and the aspect of the unhealthy working environments is a key challenge that touches the multinational corporations that use the companies in Asia for manufacturing (Raigrodski, 2016). The use of this form of labor has been found to endanger people’s lives in these regions and lead to poor health in the children who are engaged as a part of the workforce in these nations.

H&M is a well-known organization that has faced a great deal of controversy following the manufacturing practices behind their attire in the Asian continent. Therefore, the following document shall focus essentially on this organization to look into the manufacturing practices upheld by the organization and the sustainability of these practices. The paper shall focus on any broken laws and the cost of labor where healthy practices are embraced.

Incidents Under Review

The manufacturer has a large percentage of its Asian suppliers within the regions of Cambodia and Bangladesh. These nations are some of the world’s developing nations. Therefore, labor is cheap in these nations as even the minimum wage cannot be compared to that in the western world. Therefore, the clothing retailer commissions the textile factories in these nations to sew clothes for their company. However, the organization has been faced with a barrage of legal and social accusations as they seem to be using and encouraging organizations that provide clothing promptly but at the cost of human lives. The retail giant, therefore, has been found to condone unfair and unjust labor practices.

Policies Against Sustainability

Poor Wages

The low wages within Bangladesh were found that laborers were earning roughly 38 dollars per month early in the previous decade. This form of payment can easily be regarded as exploitation as the pay is way below the minimum wage requirements of the nation of Bangladesh (Raigrodski, 2016). Additionally, the wage challenge was carried forth to their operations in Cambodia’s payments. Workers in the organizations used by H&M to sew clothes were earning roughly 104 pounds in 2012, which also falls below their nation’s minimum wage standard. The low payment led to poor living conditions for the workers and led them to live in debilitating conditions.

Working Conditions

The working conditions that the organization upheld in the earlier part of the previous decade were debilitating and led to an outrageous number of accidents. In one year, over 8000 employees in the factories in Cambodia for textiles and other retail brands like H&M had collapsed while working, which led to a great deal of outrage. The collapses were caused by dehydration, exhaustion, or very high temperatures in the sewing plants.

The unjust working conditions included the Dhaka Rana building collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 (Raigrodski, 2016). This led to the loss of over 1100 lives of the persons working for textile companies. It was recorded that the building housed an organization that provided the clothes for H&M. this thus highlighted the organization’s cavalier attitude towards the safety of workers at their plants across the globe (Samaha, 2018). It is necessary to realize that they continued to work with organizations that stripped workers of their dignity.

Child Labor

The organization’s plants in Myanmar make use of underage workers as young as 14 years old. The workers were underpaid and spent over 14 hours a day indoors away from the sun sewing clothing for these fashion organizations. The workers, therefore, missed out on school and other healthy activities that children should participate in. the organizations were therefore propagating the lack of education and poor health to the next generation of workers through these deplorable conditions.

Overview of the Situation

The organizations in the review are H&M partner companies, an organization with over five instances in the previous decade where organizations condone the poor working conditions in their clothing and textile suppliers’ companies. These workers were found to be underage in various regions, which led to Myanmar. Children as young as fourteen years old were required to work full days to supply the European fashion market (Samaha, 2018). These children did not get an opportunity to stretch out and play and access healthy diets suitable for their growth. This is, therefore, likely to lead to poor health in adulthood.

The working conditions in these factories were very hot, and the workers overcrowded the rooms in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Researchers saw these challenges in most organizations where workers’ bathroom breaks were limited (Timpone, 2016). Their personal space was limited. There were no fire extinguishers in these plants, and the buildings were of poor quality, thus causing collapses such as the Dhaka Rana incident (Javed et al., 2020). The workers’ wages fell way below the minimum wage in these third-world nations. This proved that the organization was not monitoring the fair work practices promoted and were seeking to attain excessive profits instead of giving the required money for the workers to live healthy lives.

Legal Interventions

The deplorable conditions for the clothing sweatshops in Asia have promoted various reforms in the governments of these nations. The guidelines in question fall in line with the labor laws of these nations (Cotal et al., 2021). In Cambodia, Better Factories Cambodia is one organization that has been charged with the responsibility of reforming the institutions and leading to better working conditions. The Royal government’s international labor standards have had to be invoked more often than not. The policies put forth are now a part of the inspection guidelines for the Cambodian government. The employers’ associations also work comprehensively to promote inspections and legal advice concerning workers’ rights. The reforms have touched on hours, work categorization, holidays, leave, and occupational safety, promoting safety in Asia.

Other organizations have been involved in Bangladesh, where the International Labor Rights Forum has been engaged to promote the publicization of the working conditions. The workers’ rights consortium is an independent monitor for factory conditions. The clean clothes campaign and the Maquila Solidarity network are working with the Bangladeshi government and regulatory bodies to minimize the challenge across the country (Sorrell, 2018). While in Myanmar, the educational guidelines are being strengthened as the United Nations and the International labor organization are involved in improving childhood experiences and educational attainment (Nissen, 2017). The My-PEC organizations have abolished child labor in the nations, and convened workshops to form guidelines for sweatshops. It has published the work to school campaign plan and ratified section 138 of the ILO minimum age convention.

Reforms by H&M

H&M has been an unwilling partner all along the process of changing the labor challenges in the Asian sweatshops. The organization has partnered with the ILO and the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency to promote a wide range of solutions. The initial efforts have been to promote unionization in all the affected nations. The unions are meant to support workers to come together and form bargaining for safe working conditions. The education of workers facilitated by the company aims to understand abuse, workplace cooperation, worker’s rights, and labor laws. The nation is also reducing contracts with fashion companies that are not willing to follow the guidelines put forth by the international labor organization.

Sustainability Development Plan


The sustainability development plan for H&M is essentially focused on efforts to further the already started initiatives towards healthier, more sustainable factories in Asia. The key aspects that need to be understood before a proposal is put forth should concern how the fashion brand can manage fair conditions and turn over a profit (Slotnik and Sobel, 2018). The resources should therefore focus on the revolution of the labor guidelines and worker safety in these nations. If followed, the labor laws will go a long way in promoting fair work for fair pay across the globe.

Issues under review

Therefore, the report’s focus aims to change the companies’ working hours in question and end the use of substandard buildings for the garment producers to eliminate child labor and fair wages for fair work. Finally, regarding the aspect of congestion within these buildings, manufacturers will need to focus on the overall work environment of the nations in question before they can try to reform them.


The Asian corporations are hardly monitored; therefore, the organizations tend to operate freely on a profit-first basis. This provides for the use of small spaces, unrealistic working hours, and poor salaries. The objectives of good 5-year sustainability. Include the following

  1. A financial plan to work with organizations that are ratified and make use of government wage regulations should work together with the law to promote adherence and attract significant penalties if ignored.
  2. Transferring the business to nations where labor laws are considered
  3. The use of personnel to monitor the partner organizations.
  4. The removal of all children from the workforce will actualize better sustainability in that future generations may break the cycle of poverty through education.
  5. Inspection and maintenance of the factories.
  6. They are unionizing workers and working with unions to understand the workforce’s pay gaps and challenges.


The organizations should focus on the objectives either by funding and monitoring labor in nations where they already source the clothes from or take up a different approach whereby the organizations can look into moving their business to other nations compliant with the ILO requirements. Doing this will force the other nations into compliance, but this action is likely to generate suffering for the organizations and workers.

Regular workshops within the factories to train workers on their rights is an essential first step. This can be done periodically, and additionally, helplines can be provided to link up with the H&M main offices to ensure that claims are recorded and investigated. The other scheme can involve the remitting of additional funds to the factories to allow for repairs and the provision of emergency equipment. The activity can be done on an annual basis, which may improve the overall safety arrangements in these organizations.

The promotion of reporting non-compliant organizations to the government is also a key step. This step will promote transparency to avoid fines, and this may promote healthier practices in these nations. The representation of labor unions in bargaining meetings may help manage workers’ rights as the plans are being made for contract work to take off. The use of independent inspectors not affiliated with the manufacturers or the international brand may allow for transparency in these factories’ conditions.

Actualization timelines

  • The first six months should be spent analyzing and noting down the challenges at hand. This will allow for a clear set of guidelines on what needs to be solved. The period should include deep research and analysis of the root cause of the problem is.
  • The corporation should spend the next six months fundraising and other low-cost activities, including worker education on what they deserve and the appropriate channels for the actualization of these demands.
  • Therefore, the organization should seek partners in the second phase to ensure that the best solutions are put forth within these nations. Government involvement is essential, so the government should be involved in the planning process like the clean clothes act.
  • The next step should focus on worker unionization so that appropriate bodies can be formed to deal with the inequality and poor wages; this should take a year.
  • The next step of the plan is the financial roll-outs over three years to solve the challenges noted down.


The H&M brand is working well in the western world and provides many opportunities for the employees; however, it is a worrying factor that the corporation fails to manage other corporations under its blanket and provide safe working environments. The social development challenges of sustainability are reviewed. This has yielded a significant report to end poor wages, child labor, and poor working conditions in Asian textile and garment factories. The activities put forth are essential to the promotion of fair and safe working environments in Asia.

These will lead to positive outcomes in education as child enrollment may increase, reduce poverty, and eliminate factory fires and other accidents synonymous with the Asian sweatshops. The use of policies that already exist for use in limiting the policies around the Asian factories and their oppressive working conditions is a key point that will aid in saving time and money. The use of alternative funding from campaigns to end the sweatshop scenario may also aid in reducing the cost of the initiative. The national governments may not cooperate, and that is one factor that may limit the effectiveness of the campaign in question.


Cotal San Martin, V., & Machin, D. (2021). The legitimization of the use of sweat shops by H&M in the Swedish press. Journal of Language and Politics, 20(2), 254-276.

Javed, T., Yang, J., Gilal, W. G., & Gilal, N. G. (2020). The sustainability claims’ impact on the consumer’s green perception and behavioral intention: A case study of H&M. Advances in Management and Applied Economics, 10(2), 1-22.

Nissen, A. (2017). A piece of work: H&M’s take on child labour in Myanmar. International Law Journal of London.

Raigrodski, D. (2016). Creative capitalism and human trafficking: A Business approach to eliminate forced labor and human trafficking from Global Supply Chains. Heinonline, (71), 32.

Samaha, B. (2018). How H&M Is striving to become a sustainable fashion brand. Forbes. Web.

Slotnick, S. A., & Sobel, M. J. (2018). Collaboration with a supplier to induce fair labor practices: Risk, reputation, and profit. SSRN Electronic Journal. Web.

Slotnick, S. A., & Sobel, M. J. (2019). Collaboration to induce fair labor practices: Risk, reputation, and profit. Reputation, and Profit Journal.

Sorrell, C. M. (2016). H&M in factory horror as workers endure ‘sweatshop conditions’ making clothes including Beyonce’s line. Web.

Timpone, A. T. (2016). The true price for your fake Gucci bag is a life: why eliminating unsafe labor practices is the right answer to the fashion counterfeit problem. Cardozo Pub. L. Pol’y & Ethics J., 15, 351.

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