Sustainability

Sustainability

Witchery is proud to be an Australian company, and is part of the larger Country Road Group (“Group”) with the Head Office based in Melbourne.

The Group is on a journey to be a leader in sustainability. We focus on the following areas to guide our approach:

1. ETHICAL TRADE

o Code of Labour Practice
As the majority of the Group’s apparel and accessories are sourced off shore, the social and ethical implications of manufacturing in these countries are seriously considered. All manufacturers must adhere to the Group’s Code of Labour Practice which is aligned with the International Labour Organisation’s conventions in relation to ethical trade and the Ethical Trade Initiative base code.

Our Code of Labour Practice supports the following ethical trading principles:

  • That employment be freely chosen, not forced, bonded or resulting in involuntary prison labour;
  • That freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining is respected;
  • That working conditions are safe and hygienic;
  • That child labour will not be permitted;
  • That living wages should be paid;
  • That working hours are not excessive;
  • That discrimination should never be permitted or tolerated;
  • That regular employment is provided;
  • That harsh or inhumane treatment should not be allowed; and
  • Commitment to compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations, and a commitment to environmental efficiency and improvement over time.

Suppliers undergo regular social compliance checks conducted by independent auditors, or are required to supply audit reports from independent auditors, to ensure they meet the standards of the Code. Click here to download our Code of Labour Practice.

o Code of Conduct
The Group maintains high standards within the business and supply chain to uphold ethical behaviours, ensuring compliance with its Code of Conduct.

o Product safety
The Group ensures products are safe, fit for purpose and meet the legal and mandatory regulatory requirements in the countries in which it trades.

2. SUSTAINABLE FARMING AND SOURCING OF RAW MATERIALS

o Animal Welfare Principles

All our manufacturers are required to promote animal welfare by minimising any potential harm, stress or pain to animals, and adhering to relevant national and international standards for Animal Welfare. Click here to download our Animal Welfare principles. 

o Angora
In response to the revelations highlighted by PETA in 2013 regarding angora and the process of fibre removal, the Group ceased ordering product containing angora in January 2014. The Group will maintain this position until it is completely satisfied that ethical standards of fibre procurement are being followed by the angora industry.

o Wool
The Group is a major supporter of the Australian wool industry and many wool products proudly display that they are made from Australian merino wool. A proactive approach to sourcing a sustainable supply of non-mulesed wool has been undertaken.

o Leather

We work with our suppliers to source the best quality leathers. Cow, sheep and goat hide (those most commonly used) are to be a by-product of other industries and animals should be humanely slaughtered to ensure minimum distress. We do not use exotic skins.

3. SCARCE WATER RESOURCES

o Environmental Code of Practice
All manufacturers must adhere to the Group’s Environmental Code of Practice (“ECoP”) for the dyeing, printing and finishing of merchandise supplied. This code aims to ensure that within existing technology, no dye or chemical used in the production of garments, fabrics, leather and/or textile related products present an unacceptable health or environmental risk during manufacturing, use or disposal. Suppliers are responsible for ensuring that both their own facilities and those of their third party suppliers follow the guidelines in the ECoP. Click here to download our ECoP.

o Water tanks at head office
The water tanks at the Richmond Head Office capture approximately 1,000,000 litres of rain water each year which is used in the office toilets.

4. ENERGY EFFICIENCY

o Store design

The Group continues to drive energy efficiency and sustainable store design by:

· Installing LED light fittings in all new and refurbished stores;

· Using timers on shopfront lights and sensors in back areas;

· Using only cold water in most stores and timers on hot water systems in large stores;

· Using paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds in all new stores and refits;

· Using timbers and veneer from sustainable sources; and

· Encouraging employees to take public transport to work.

o The Omni Fulfilment Centre

The Group’s new distribution centre - the Omni Fulfilment Centre (OFC), has a number of energy and water-saving features including solar panels, natural lighting and rain-water harvesting. The OFC received a ‘5 Star Green Star – Industrial As Built v1’ rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

5. REDUCING WASTE ACROSS THE BUSINESS AND HELPING CUSTOMERS TO DO THE SAME

o Australia Packaging Covenant
The Australian Packaging Covenant (“APC”) is a federal government initiative focused on reducing the amount of used packaging that reaches landfill. Signatory responsibilities include the submission and execution of a packaging and waste action plan. The APC provides a rating based on the previous years’ performance. For the most recent ratings period, 2013/2014, the Group achieved a rating of 3.5 out of 5, which is well above the industry average.

o Office procurement
Where possible, the Group purchases sustainable office products, which are manufactured with recycled paper and plastic content. In FY 2015 26% of head office supplies products were sourced from Staples’ Earth Saver range.

6. CONTRIBUTING TO SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES

o Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation

Witchery is proud of developing a 14-year partnership with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF). Broadly speaking, our campaign has proved instrumental in raising awareness for ovarian cancer. Its success is based on the simplicity of the message: 100% of the proceeds from the sale of each white shirt go directly to the OCRF.

In FY 2015 Witchery raised over $1.4 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) through the annual White Shirt Campaign, the sale of silver ribbons and the sale of the Silver Gift collection in stores and online. This brings the total donations raised by Witchery for the OCRF to more than $7 million since first partnering in 2000.

Witchery’s ongoing support has helped the OCRF make significant progress toward the development of an early detection test for ovarian cancer. More specifically, the funds have supported a large number of research staff and projects, and the purchase of research equipment. Witchery’s funding also provides support for scientific and medical students undertaking higher degree studies into ovarian cancer.

Witchery won the Fashion with Heart award for 2015 at the Prix de Marie Claire Awards, in recognition of the annual White Shirt Campaign and efforts to raise funds for the OCRF.

o My School MyVillage MyPlanet
In FY 2015 the Group’s stores in South Africa contributed more than $93 000 on behalf of customers to the MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet program. As one of South Africa’s most successful fundraising programs, MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet is focused on improving education and social development, by raising and delivering essential funding to schools and charities. Every time customers swipe their MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet supporter cards, a percentage of their purchase is donated by the Group to the customer’s chosen school and/or charity on their behalf.

7. HEALTH AND WELLNESS FOR CUSTOMERS AND EMPLOYEES

o Employee opinion

In order to address employee’s priorities, the Group undertook an externally hosted alignment and engagement survey. The results of the 2015 pulse survey revealed positive engagement scores across all areas of the business.

o Career paths & development opportunities

The Group invests in the development of its people and focuses on providing strong career paths and development opportunities for all employees. The number of internal management appointments across the business is a key measure in the corporate strategic plan.

Formal succession planning meetings are conducted bi-annually, covering store management positions, through to executive level. This process assists to identify and plan the ongoing development and sustainability of high potential employees across the Group, and determines current and future operation requirements in the business.

The Group, in conjunction with Woolworths South Africa, has launched its Values Based Leadership Program. In FY 2015, 38 head office employees participated in this program, with plans to roll out the program further in FY 2016.

o Competitive benefits

All employees participate in performance based incentive programs; from store team members, store managers, head office employees and through to the executive team.

o Health & safety

The Group is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone. We regard compliance with legal requirements as minimum standards and work to actively promote well-being and safety, by maintaining and striving for the very highest safety standard.

o Equal employment opportunity

The Group is committed to equal opportunity in the workplace for all regardless of age, career status, disability, industrial activity, physical features, political belief or activity, pregnancy, race, religion gender or sexual preference. Compulsory EEO training is completed to all new employees to increase awareness of these issues.

o Whitehouse School of Design

Witchery believes in nurturing the talent and creativity of young Australian fashion designers and aims to enhance the careers of the next generation of design talent through the annual Witchery White Shirt Design Award in partnership with the Whitehouse Institute of Design.

Whitehouse Institute of Design students, in their second year of studying a Bachelor of Design in Fashion, are invited to enter the Witchery Design Award challenge. The winning student’s white shirt design is produced and sold in Witchery stores as part of the annual White Shirt Campaign, where 100% of the gross proceeds from the sale of each white shirt sold is donated directly to the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation to assist their vital research endeavours to find an early detection test for ovarian cancer.

o Witchery Visual Merchandising Placement Program

Witchery partners with RMIT University to offer a work placement program to selected Visual Merchandising students. Students are provided with practical placements within Head Office and our top Victorian stores throughout the year. The program is designed to provide work experience opportunities and bridge the gap between students and experienced merchandisers.