At Aritzia, we care about our people, the communities we serve, and the planet we all share. That’s why we strive to be accountable for the impact our business has on every person in every region that it touches.
Social & Environmental Responsibility at Aritzia
Aritzia has a Social & Environmental Responsibility (SER) team whose sole mission is guiding our employees and partners toward socially and environmentally responsible decisions that reflect both our values and those of humankind in general, decisions we hope will benefit everyone in our larger global community.
We Love Our People
We love our people, so we take care to ensure that everyone we work with (from the employees in our office to our cleaning staff to the person who sews the button onto your parka) are treated fairly, paid properly, and work in a healthy and safe environment.
We hired a third-party social compliance auditing company, which—along with our own SER manager—conducts annual workplace conditions audits of all our garment factories overseas. This year, we will begin auditing our accessories factories and mills, as well, and, if there are any areas of low performance, our SER team will work with vendors and factories to identify the root causes, analyze the findings, and make the necessary improvements incrementally. We do not believe in severing partnerships; instead, we believe in working to continuously improve the performance and well-being of all our collaborators.
In an effort to ensure supply chain security, facilitate legitimate trade, increase border security, combat organized crime and terrorism, and help the Canadian and U.S. governments detect and prevent contraband smuggling, Aritzia is both PIP (Partners in Protection, Canada) and C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, U.S.) certified. We even require that all of our carriers be certified.
We Love Our Planet
We love the planet and aim to reduce Aritzia’s and our partners’ environmental footprint, so that it has minimal impact on our LAWs: land, air, and water resources. We take every effort to minimize waste by reducing paper usage, energy consumption, and thoughtless disposal in our daily operations.
Here are a few ways we help the environment:
- In our Support Office: We set all of our printers to double-sided mode to save paper; we have motion-sensor lights that turn off after inactivity to save energy; in our gourmet kitchen, we provide dishware and silverware instead of paper or Styrofoam cups to minimize waste.
- For our employees: We use video-conferencing instead of flying overseas to provide vendor training whenever possible to decrease our carbon footprint; we implemented WMS, and 20+ software systems, which help us streamline processes, reduce paper filing and waste, as well as ensure that all our resources are delegated and optimised effectively.
- For our customers: Our packaging is reusable and recyclable, and we also offer ground shipping, which has a much smaller environmental impact than air shipping. Please see our "We Love Our Customers" section for more information.
- IT equipment: We regularly participate in secure data removal, which means that we donate/recycle our electronics to the Electronic Recycling Association (www.era.ca). For items that can be refurbished, ERA fixes them and donates to other organizations, schools and companies.
We love YOU and want to let you know about Aritzia’s SER initiatives through transparent communication and to, hopefully, inspire you to be positively contributing members of society. Here are some ways you can help and spread the word:
- In our stores, you can say no to tissue paper and save on paper waste.
- You can reuse our bags as much as possible and then recycle them when you’re done. Just remember to tear the handles off before putting them in the paper-recycling bin.
- You can read the clothing labels to find out about our unique manufacturing features, including using organic fibres and environmentally friendly production processes.
- For our office and stores, we mainly use Benjamin Moore’s Eco-Spec line of paint, which contains zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds—a variety of chemicals that can cause adverse health effects)—we want our employees to work in a VOC-free environment and we want you to have a healthy, VOC-free experience when you shop at Aritzia.
We Love Our Communities
We love the communities we serve, therefore we commit and strive to be good corporate citizens. Aritzia works closely with our partners to make sure we give back as much as possible.
Our Community Partners include:
- The Salvation Army. Aritzia supports women's programs in BC through the Salvation Army’s Deborah's Gate and Kate Booth House facilities. These initiatives rescue victims of human trafficking and domestic violence, respectively, and provide them with shelter and a safe, caring environment within which to heal and begin a life of freedom. For more information, please visit their websites www.deborahsgate.ca and www.salvationarmy.ca/britishcolumbia/kateboothhouse/.
The United Way referred projects:
- Umoja Operation whose mission is to empower minorities and other refugees to integrate into Canadian society and to support initiatives to improve the quality of life in the third world. More information can be found on their website www.umojaoperation.ca.
- DIVERSEcity which assists immigrants and new Canadians in their integration into their new community, and promotes the independence of new Canadians and builds strong culturally diverse communities. More information can be found on their website www.dcrs.ca.
We audit all of our garment factories for any human trafficking and slavery risks. We use independent, third-party monitoring firms and occasionally our own SER Manager accompanies them on inspections. These audits are announced within a two-week window.
We require our suppliers and the factories we work with to comply with all local and international laws governing human trafficking and slavery—with no exceptions. Working together with our third-party monitoring firms, our in-house staff handles factory remediation and continuous improvement plans. All Aritzia staff members who are directly responsible for supply-chain management have been trained on mitigating human trafficking and supply-chain risks within our product supply chains. Our focus on progress is ongoing and we will continue to work together closely with our partners on developing sustainable standards to improve working conditions. It’s important to us that we always feel good about where our products come from.
We hold ourselves and our partners to these standards:Vendor Code Of Conduct
Women of Yunnan Humanitarian Effort
This year, Aritzia participated in a community-giving project in Yunnan, China. Partnering with Calgary-based charity Eco Village of Hope and their sister organization, HANDA Rehabilitation and Welfare Association, we gave extra fabric, trims, and accessories, as well as monetary donations, to support their programs. The goal of our project was to help women and children across four villages in the province by teaching them skills, like sewing clothes, that would be valuable to their daily lives. Our donations also made it possible for one of Aritzia’s Senior Patternmakers to fulfill her dream of embarking on a humanitarian mission.
The total value of our donations came to CAD$10,800, which broke down into CAD$6,700 for materials and CAD$4,100 for support funds. Donating materials allowed the villagers to create beautiful clothes they could be proud of. Our donation of funds translated into tangible support for 130 female villagers across four leprosy recovery villages (Jiu Dao Ya Kou, La Hong Ku, Ma Lu Tang, and Luo Xong Di). We purchased 130 hygiene packages, 25 sewing kits, and 15 electric sewing machines. We also held a contest for villagers to win sewing machines that would then enable them to help others as well as themselves. To “earn” a sewing machine, we challenged recipients to make 10 pairs of pants, 10 sweatshirts, and 10 soft backpacks each—all of which would then be given to other villagers.
We’re so proud to have sponsored one of our own employees for this community outreach project. It was exciting to see the impact we could make in a country where more than 85 percent of our suppliers are based. By giving materials and monetary donations we really made a difference in these communities.
Earth Day Tree Planting
Recently, Aritzia donated 48 trees to three of our top garment factories in China with the aim of improving the environment and creating outdoor spaces the staff can enjoy. By helping to beautify the landscape and air, we can assist in the long-term vision for collaborative surroundings.
To commemorate Earth Day on April 22, 2012, our SER manager planted trees at one factory in Zhuhai, China, together with 50 employees. Factory management and line workers worked side by side to make their work environment more beautiful and green. It was a great team-building opportunity that had everyone smiling as they got their hands dirty. After the trees were planted, everyone enjoyed snacks and beverages and music—after all, there’s no better way to end a productive day than with a good party.
For photos from that day, please click here.