BATA’s point of viewA chat with Nicole Voillat, Sustainability Director
What are Bata’s guiding principles on Corporate Social Responsibility?
Sustainability has been a key element of Bata’s values since its beginning in 1894, and is an integral part of our business strategy. Bata has formally introduced a code of conduct for suppliers that include universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and product safety.
What are the most important specifications upon which Bata agrees with its contractors and suppliers, in particular as regards the traceability of products (leathers, materials, footwear components, etc.)?
Bata has established for its suppliers specifications that contain all the European regulations of REACH. Each product is thoroughly tested by a laboratory that we have chosen so that there is only one reliable method for carrying out the various tests. As regards leather, Bata is a member of the Leather Working Group, a group of brands, tanneries and chemical industries whose goal is to certify tanneries, above all from an environmental point of view.
Bata is known also for its social projects, for example your microcredit programme in developing countries that allows door-to-door sales of your products and provides direct income to your salespeople. What projects are you carrying out?
Bata has always been committed to generating an added value in the communities in which it operates, both with the creation of jobs (35,000 at present) and with the development of entrepreneurial skills, in order to favour an active participation in the society and economy of the country. Concretely, we helped more than 30,000 people create their small enterprise both in the field of footwear and in that of retailing.
In Bangladesh, for example, in 2005 we created a so-called ‘social enterprise’, where over 3000 women isolated by society, i.e. widows or divorcées, work autonomously, selling our flip-flops in rural areas. Shoes are manufactured in our factories in Bangladesh and are sold for 1 dollar per pair. In this way we help disadvantaged women earn a decent wage and our poorer customers, who are at the base of the economic pyramid, have the opportunity of buying a pair of shoes. It is a double emancipation programme.
“The real role of business is to give a service by making and selling products that satisfy the want and needs of society, and in doing so to be a caring organization in partnership with community and government” – Thomas J. Bata