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 Ethical Fashion Activist Participates in SA8000 Training

Sarah Jay from the Canadian nonprofit Fashion Takes Action participated in SAI’s training course to deepen her understanding of social certification schemes as a tool to promote workers’ rights in the apparel sector. She first learned about the SA8000® Standard at the World Ethical Apparel Roundtable and felt the need to translate its principles to her peers, colleagues, and clients.

“I decided to take the course so that I could be a first point of contact for the designers at Fashion Takes Action, who want to learn about labor standards – especially for those transitioning from making their own samples to having their products made overseas,” Jay says following the SA8000 Introduction and Basic Auditor Training Course in New York last June.

Fashion Takes Action advances sustainability in the fashion industry and has over the years worked with more than 400 apparel businesses and entrepreneurs. Jay has been involved with the organization since its inception ten years ago and currently serves as its creative director and a member of the board of directors. 

  Sarah Jay (front, center) from the Canadian nonprofit Fashion Takes Action attended SAI's auditor training
  course in New York along with a group of professionals from various industries.

Balancing Business Growth and Sustainability

“We strive to change the way people create and consume fashion through a variety of awareness programs and events,” Jay explains. “We also educate schoolchildren on the social and environmental impacts of the fashion world through our program My Clothes My World,” she adds.

Jay now feels more confident discussing the social aspect of growing one’s apparel business – particularly with designers, who are beginning to outsource their work and may not always be cognizant of labor issues.

“For independent designers, scaling up the business remains the biggest concern and the human cost of that growth often falls to the wayside. Even with major labels, efforts to combat labor issues have not been given the same weight that environmental sustainability initiatives have,” Jay contemplates.

“The course was a reminder to me that people in the apparel industry are often more comfortable discussing textile innovation than they are questions surrounding working conditions,” she says.

Jay hopes to continue using the knowledge she gained from the course to show the importance of including workers’ rights and safety concerns in conversations about sustainability and the bottom line. She knows that there is still a lot of work to be done, especially to pay all fashion industry workers a living wage and to ensure their health and safety at workplaces.

“We should value people above all. If you respect the environment that a human is in, you must also respect the human,” she concludes. 

SAI offers a complementary seat to a representative from an NGO or trade union for each of its SA8000 Introduction and Basic Auditor Training Courses. For SAI’s 2017 Training Courses, click here.

7 September 2017