Under the Social banner, within ESG and ESG Investing, many recent developments have emanated from national governments and domestic courts.  But this is not always the case.  On occasion, significant initiatives are undertaken by civil society in the form of multinational corporations (MNCs) and global union federations (GUFs) working together to produce a positive result. 

A case in point is the August 26, 2021 announcement that Fashion Brands (such as H&M and Inditex) have signed onto a new deal with GUFs and local unions involving Bangladesh garment workers’ safety and auditing procedures. The new deal was achieved just days before the expiration of the current Accord originally created in 2013 in response to the Rana Plaza disaster in which more than 1,100 people perished in the collapse of a factory. 

The new Accord, which will be managed by the Ready-Made Garments Sustainability Council (RSC), is valid until October 2023.

Although the details of the new Accord are still emerging, including the list of all the signatories, the freshly-minted agreement, in addition to extending general health and safety for workers in Bangladesh beyond fire and building safety, also expands human rights due diligence within supply chains.

The signatories will meet within six months to consider extending the provisions of the new Accord to garment workers in one or more other countries beyond Bangladesh.  (According to the ILO, more than 4.5 million people work in export facilities in Bangladesh).

As the world seeks to recover from the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19, it is not just national governments and domestic courts, but also stakeholders from civil society, who are focused on attaining economic recovery with social progress in search of the elusive balance between the two.