DiNapoli: Major Retailers Agree to Report on Efforts to Protect Human Rights, Workplace Safety


Albany, NY (WorkersCompensation.com) - New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli today announced corporate retailers Macy's and Ross Stores have agreed to shareholder proposals filed by the New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) that asked the companies to report on how they monitor their overseas apparel suppliers and subcontractors in an effort to protect human and workplace standards.

"Human rights and workplace safety should not stop at the U.S. border," DiNapoli said. "These companies have appropriately agreed to report how they monitor and address business practices that give rise to child labor, sweatshop conditions and the denial of labor rights. Greater corporate accountability for workers' rights can create stronger companies and safeguard the New York State Common Retirement Fund's investments."

DiNapoli's proposals asked each company to report on the steps they are taking, or plan to take, to monitor the use of subcontractors by their overseas apparel suppliers. The reports include company policy of those subcontractors, the applicability of company codes of conduct to apparel suppliers and sub-contractors, compliance with those codes and procedures to deal with non-compliance.

Recent reports of factory workers' safety issues have revealed the extent to which subcontracting in substandard facilities is the norm in overseas apparel production. The 2014 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh is the most devastating example of the dangers facing these workers.

DiNapoli's office has worked closely with the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights to urge companies to develop policies and practices that will respect human rights while still advancing business interests. The center has partnered with business leaders as well as shareholders to set standards for human rights performance across multiple industries.

"Although many companies have adopted strict policies against unauthorized subcontracting, we must do more to ensure their policies are being upheld throughout their supply chains," said Michael Posner, director of the center. "There are millions of workers in thousands of unregulated factories with virtually no international resources to help safeguard conditions."

About the Companies:
Macy's Inc. is one of the nation's largest retailers with 870 stores in 45 states. It owns and operates Macy's, Macy's Backstage, Bloomingdale's and Bloomingdale's Outlet.

Ross Stores Inc. is a Fortune 500 company and one of the largest discount fashion chains in the United States with 1,274 locations in 34 states.

The Fund currently owns 670,400 shares of Macy's Inc. stock valued at $22,270,688 and 1,345,002 shares of Ross Stores Inc. valued at $92,240,237.

DiNapoli, as trustee of the Fund, has engaged portfolio companies for several years in an ongoing effort to increase transparency and accountability in their supply chains.

In 2010, the Fund, in concert with other signatories of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, wrote letters to selected companies asking them to call on their overseas suppliers to implement the core labor rights standards of the UN's International Labor Organization (ILO) and to allow independent monitoring of their compliance.

Since then, the Fund has helped secure agreements with several notable companies to address human rights issues.

2016 – Fortune 500 fast food companies Wendy's and YUM! Brands, the parent company of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, agreed to conduct assessments of human rights risks related to labor standards in their operations and supply chains.

2014 - Dollar Tree, Dillard's and Guess? agreed to increase transparency and accountability in their supply chains.

2013 - Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond agreed to encourage their suppliers to report on workplace safety, human and worker rights and environmental compliance. The Fund also reached a similar agreement with Ralph Lauren.

The same year, in the wake of the Rana Plaza collapse, DiNapoli traveled to Bangladesh as part of delegation to determine what steps had been taken to improve workplace conditions among apparel makers in the country.

About the New York State Common Retirement Fund
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is the third largest public pension fund in the United States, with estimated assets of $184.5 billion as of Sept. 30, 2016. The Fund holds and invests the assets of the New York State and Local Retirement System on behalf of more than one million state and local government employees and retirees and their beneficiaries. The Fund has consistently been ranked as one of the best managed and best funded plans in the nation. The Fund's fiscal year ends March 31, 2017.

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