Ethical supply chain management: How retailers can ensure products are ethically sourced

This Case Study examines the economic forces which lead to the outsourcing of manufacturing to low-income countries, and the impact on working people in those countries. It also examines the ways in which retailers can manage their supply chains ethically in a global economy.


Understand why apparel manufacturing has moved from developed to emerging economies.

Discover some of the problems facing workers in the apparel manufacturing industry in low-wage economies.

Find out what companies in the developed world are doing to improve pay and conditions for workers in outsourced apparel manufacturing.

Assess progress towards ethical supply chains in the apparel industry as a whole.

Reasons to buy

Why are many apparel manufacturing companies based in low-wage economies?

What kind of pay and conditions can workers in apparel manufacturing expect?

How can an apparel company ensure its supply chain is ethical?

Companies mentioned


Table of Contents




Why supply chains are globalized

International trade allows countries to exploit comparative advantage

Free trade was seen historically as an ethical economic policy

Labor-intensive forms of manufacturing tend to move to low-wage economies

Consumers are now accustomed to low prices and fast fashion

Ethical issues in apparel manufacturing

Pay is less than the living wage

Conditions of work are exhausting and unsafe

Child labor is used

Employment rights are limited

How retailers can manage supply chains ethically

Labor organizations have defined acceptable working conditions

Establishing a policy is the first step

Tracing the complete supply chain is vital

Ethical audits are also vital, but reliability is a challenge

Apparel companies can offer training, living wages, and more


Apparel companies are aware, but much progress is needed



Further Reading

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