Macy's (M) boosts minority spending and hiring in 2012, reduces third-world factory audits

Retailers Social Responsibility Report published

Macy’s Inc. increased spending with minority- and women-owned businesses nearly 8 percent in 2012 to $780.4 million, according to its just-published 2013 Report on Social Responsibility.

The wide-ranging annual report covers the Cincinnati-based retailer’s ongoing progress in environmental sustainability, product sourcing, community relations and economic inclusion. Among the highlights:

  • Macy’s recycled 69,400 tons of waste in 2012, about 3,000 tons short of its goal, which was hiked to 72,800 tons for 2013.
  • Macy’s now generates 23,599 megawatt hours of renewable energy at 44 company facilities. That’s up from 41 facilities and 22,000 megawatt hours in 2011.
  • Women represent more than 75 percent of Macy’s workforce, down from 73 percent last year. More than 73 percent of management-level employees are women, up from 69 percent last year.
  • Minorities represent 52 percent of the Macy’s workforce and 39 percent of the management team. Both numbers increased in the last year.
  • Macy’s donated more than $26 million to 4,500 charities nationwide, on par with last year’s giving.
  • Macy’s conducted 1,433 factory audits in 2012, down from 1,533 in 2011. Last year, 47 factories failed inspection and 38 were terminated as Macy’s vendors. This year, 23 failed and 19 were terminated.

The issue of factory inspections has gotten more media attention in the last year because of disasters that killed hundreds of people at factories in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Macy’s says it is a “founding member of the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, which was formed to protect and empower workers, and elevate fire and building safety in Bangladeshi garment factories through comprehensive and measurable actions.”

But a well-known labor rights advocate said Macy’s new report “suggests a weak auditing program,” based on the number of violations per inspection and a lack of worker safety standards in its list of “high risk” violations.

Scott Nova, executive director of Worker Rights Consortium in New York, also criticized the use of UL Verification Services as Macy’s independent auditing firm. He said the company has been widely criticized for missing problems at factories in Pakistan and Bangladesh where hundreds died in factory fires.

“Nobody should be using this guys at this point,” Nova said.

Macy’s wasn't immediately available for comment. But its report detailed its auditor's credentials as a member of the United Nations Global Compact since 2003.

“Our auditor brings in-depth experience in verifying employment practices," said the report. "Audits also include private interviews with workers in various departments to confirm factory policies.”

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