Manufacturers are evaluated on the whether employees are paid a livable wage, given a wide variety of benefits, and have a reasonable expectation of future employment. Learn more about living wages below.
What is a living wage?
A living wage is based on an estimate of the cost of living in a community or region based on typical expenses, taking into account the costs of food, medical, housing, transportation, taxes, and savings. We believe all manufacturers should be striving to provide a living wage as their lowest wage at a minimum.
Why a living wage matters:
The end to generational poverty starts with women’s wages. Across the world, women are concentrated in the lowest-paid and least secure jobs, making them—and their children—more vulnerable to poverty. Minimum wages have not kept up with increasing costs of living, so living wages are crucial to reducing inequality for working families and ending generational poverty.
Facts and Figures
1. Minimum wage v. Living wage
The minimum wage is set by federal, state, and local law and determines the minimum hourly wage employers are legally bound to pay employees. A living wage is the hourly rate that an individual must earn to meet their basic needs.
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, MIT
2. The Importance of equal pay.
If women were paid the same as men, the poverty rate among working women would decrease from 8% to 3.8% globally, and 2.5 million children would come out of poverty.
Source: Institute for Women’s Policy Research
3. Fashion’s dirty little secret.
Fashion employs 45 million women around the world, and 44.1 million of them are not paid a living wage, which means they cannot afford their basic necessities.
Source: Fast Company
4. What would living wages cost brands?
If brands absorbed the cost of paying living wages within their supply chains, it would likely only cost them between 1-3% of the price of a garment.
Source: Clean Clothes Campaign, Oxfam Australia
5. Sustainable Development Goals
Without living wages, we cannot meet at least 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals: (1) No poverty, (2) Zero hunger, (3) Good health and well-being, (5) Gender equality, (8) Decent work and economic growth, and (10) Reduced inequalities
Source: United Nations
• Employer currently employs women, who are equally represented in leadership and given the same opportunity for promotion as men
• The company’s mission/vision statement specifically states their intent to employ and empower women
• Employer is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on any personal attributes
• Employer actively hires from vulnerable communities (e.g. HIV/AIDS, refugee, homeless, etc), and employees from vulnerable communities are paid the same wages as non-vulnerable employees doing the same work
• Employer has a handbook with clearly defined legal rights and company policies, and all workers have had formal safety training
• Employer offers full-time work and has more full-time female workers than part-time female workers
• Employer cultivates a working environment where employees feel safe from sexual, emotional or physical harassment and all workers feel safe from injury
• Employees are free from forced labor / modern day slavery: they are not coerced to work through the use of violence, intimidation, or more subtle means such as manipulated debt or retention of identity papers
• Employees can leave work for emergencies without fear of losing their jobs
• Employers offer a safe way for employees to report a crime or incident