Since last year’s Bangladesh factory collapse, a number of companies have made efforts to improve factory conditions and address worker well-being, including Levi’s, Marks & Spencer and H&M. Now, a new fund seeks to provide monetary support for those directly affected.

Just two months before the anniversary of the Bangladesh tragedy, five companies have donated to the newly created Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which will provide compensation for nearly 4,000 survivors and families of victims and will pay for such things as medical bills and lost wages. Although some companies have concerns that a public donation may be seen as an admission of guilt, others, such as Dan Rees of the International Labor Organization, see it as a “mechanism that the whole industry can support.” Indeed, for the fund to be able to reach its $40 million goal, which will allow full compensation to those affected, advocates urge all companies, including those not involved in the incident, to commit donations.  Companies and individuals are encouraged to donate either publicly or anonymously, with only a few companies currently listed as donors: El Corte Ingles, Mascot, Mango, Inditex and Loblaw.

As companies still grapple with the implications of the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, it’s clear there is no one silver bullet to addressing supply chain issues. Companies must look at their own operations but also acknowledge their role as a global citizen and responsible partner. In this way, philanthropy continues to be a critical tool in fulfilling a company’s responsible business strategies.


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