From achieving employee happiness to achieving a sustainable society
No matter the industry or company, a business can only be built by the employees who work in it. It is fair to say that in the pursuit of corporate sustainability, maintaining employee health, ensuring workplace safety, and improving employment are all responsibilities of the company. In this way, employees are positioned as important stakeholders of the company.
Furthermore, more and more companies these days are adding "employee wellbeing" to their corporate principles and actively working to improve the working environment. In fact, surveys have shown that improvements in employee wellbeing lead to improved productivity. Research by the University of Warwick shows that differences in wellbeing can lead to differences in productivity of 22%.*1
Changing awareness of working environments in the fashion industry
The movement to improve working environments began with a tragedy. This was the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factories building in Dhaka, Bangladesh*2. The incident was a shocking lesson for many, and it sparked a revolution in working environments, not just in the fashion industry, but in many other business fields and companies.
In Bangladesh, approximately 230 unions were formed from mid-2013 to the end of 2014.*3
As well, a number of companies and unions around the world signed the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.
Participating companies promised to ensure the safety of factories while undertaking factory surveys, renovations, follow-up surveys, worker safety and sanitation drills, and so on. Currently 190 brands and over 1,600 factories participate in the accord, with more than 2 million workers subject to safety checks and education in the factories *4.
Initiatives to ensure YKK employee safety and maintain employee health
In 1994, the YKK Group formulated its Health and Safety Pledge. At our locations around the world, we are committed to eradicating dangerous and harmful threats from workplaces and ensuring the safety of staff.
Through human resource development, workplace development, and structural development, we provide health and safety education, from danger simulation training to mental health education. Every year we run Safety Patrol Day, when company presidents and plant managers conduct safety inspections.*5
Still further, we have established our own standard, the YKK Global Criteria of Compliance (YGCC), based on ISO26000 guidelines and the YKK management principle of the Cycle of Goodness. This mandates periodic assessments and ongoing daily improvements of our businesses under six themes and 36 categories, which include working conditions and health and safety*6
In 2018, we formulated our Health Declaration. We aspire to become a company where all employees are able to work with pride and pleasure, where we consider employee health as we improve working environments.*7
In March, 2019, YKK Bangladesh Pte. Ltd. received certification from the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety*8. The Alliance carries out plant safety assessments with the cooperation of independent and certified assessors (Qualified Assessment Firms) to ensure that facilities meet fire safety structural integrity standards.
As well, YKK Espana S.A. was awarded the MC Mutual's Baro Award for factories with few worker accidents. The award recognized the company's ongoing attitude and efforts toward health and safety*9.
Meanwhile, YKK Portugal - Acessorios Para Vestuario LDA. was recognized for its work to increase employee wellbeing with a 4th place overall global ranking and 1st place manufacturing category ranking in the Melhores Empresas Para Trabalhar de 2019 rankings, which are sponsored by Portugal's leading business magazine, Exame. Furthermore, the company received the Big Increase award for having the largest rankings improvement over the previous year.
YKK Portugal runs the Happiness Project to increase employee wellbeing through intra-company team-building activities that take place outside the company, and the Care Project which, among other welfare programs, provides free massages from independent physical therapists and financial assistance for employee family members to help pay for educational materials for compulsory education. The company also works to foster a culture of providing employee self-development opportunities and reassessment activities at production sites. These initiatives led to the company's selection and high rating in the awards.