My stomach began to turn after seeing the headlines about the fire in a Bangladesh factory. With five years of experience as a production manager for an intimate apparel company, I spent a significant amount of time overseas in factories negotiating deliveries and checking on quality. So often, my number one priority would be to get the deliveries out on time because that was how we stayed in business. After all, people were going to surely die if they didn't receive the new spring palette of lace panties and satin bras.
The Bangladesh headline immediately made me think of all of the faces I would see walking through factories in China and Indonesia. To think that over 100 lives are now gone. Mothers are now missing daughters and daughters are missing fathers. It hurts me to the core. There were safety audits done at the factory and the factory probably passed the audit like most do by cramming to have everything ready for the planned inspection visit. However, there was something clearly wrong in this situation.
We can expect that over the next few days, consumers will blame brands looking to make a larger margin and brands blame consumers for demanding lower prices. What are we doing to do to right this wrong? This is definitely a topic that will be discussed at the retail meetings this week. Some companies are giving money to the families of the deceased, however I hope that this gesture is sincere and not merely a way to keep workers from going on strike.
I question if the focus of the weekly meetings will be rerouting the fabric so that the goods can be produced and on the floor in time for spring or on how to help the families of those who lost their lives and fix this problem so that it will never happen again in any factory. Having worked in this industry for so long, I fear that we don't want to know the answer.
What are your thoughts?