Developing our approach to stakeholder engagement

An important part of our approach to sustainability is to listen - and listen deeply. To meet our global sustainability goals, we must continue having open and constructive conversations with our stakeholders.

Our objective is to understand, identify, promote, influence positively and work collaboratively across our entire value chain to deliver the following:

  • Proactively address significant and ongoing human and business risks.
  • Become a catalyst for sustainability to transform the apparel industry - promoting continuous improvement in all our activities.
  • Provide leadership on emerging topics and issues amongst our stakeholders.
  • Give shared value in our approach and partnership with our stakeholders.

In 2015, we refined our approach to stakeholder engagement, bringing together regional practices under a global strategy and six-part strategic framework:

Identify – Listing relevant groups, organisations, and people. To define the criteria for identifying and prioritising stakeholders and select an engagement mechanism for each of them.
Analyse – Understanding stakeholder perspectives and relevance.
Map – Visualising relationships to objectives and other stakeholders.
Prioritise – Ranking stakeholder relevance and identifying issues. To focus on short-and long-term goals, determine logistics for the engagement and set the level of integration that the stakeholders will have within the decision-making process at C&A.
Engage – Having active dialogue with our stakeholders to create change.
Continually improve – Identifying opportunities from feedback and determining how to inform our strategy.

Focusing our stakeholder efforts to drive better outcomes

From this process we identified 64 stakeholder groups in eight categories ranging from labor rights groups to our employees. We evaluated each stakeholder group to determine how to engage them on an ongoing basis, taking into consideration the issues that are important to them.  As an outcome of the process, we identified several key stakeholders that we will create stronger relationships in 2016.

As we progress on our journey we are investigating new and more effective ways of engaging our stakeholders. Going forward the leadership areas of our 2020 strategy describes where we will deeply engage stakeholders.

  • Use of more sustainable raw materials in our products.
  • Promotion of circular economy principles in our business activities.
  • Reduction of the environmental impact related to C&A activities assurance of safe and fair working conditions throughout the supply chain.
  • Creation of a culture of sustainability throughout our employees.
  • Enabling our customers to act more sustainably in their daily activities.

Our key stakeholder groups

How we communicate with our stakeholders

Multi-stakeholder initiativesConveningsCollaborationsEmailCustomer enquiries

Labour rights groups

Environmental advocates

Associations representing suppliers and entrepreneurs

Governments and intergovernmental organisations


Animal welfare groups

Labour rights groups

Associations representing suppliers and entrepreneurs

Governments and intergovernmental organisations


Labour rights groups

Associations representing suppliers and entrepreneurs


Product health and safety associations

Animal welfare groups

Labour rights groups

Environmental advocates

Community groups


Responding to input

In 2014 and 2015, our external stakeholders told us they want us to collaborate and communicate more openly. Although they believe our sustainability initiatives are thoughtful and well-intentioned, they told us we could be better at integrating sustainability into our business - and they’re willing to be involved as we work towards our sustainability goals.

Going forward, we want even more feedback. So, in 2016, we’re launching a new platform where we can have two-way discussions with our broader stakeholder base. People will be able to ask questions and suggest topics for discussion. We’ll provide updates on our progress as well as ask for input on specific topics. Throughout all our interactions, we’ll evaluate what we learn and the feedback we receive so we can continue improving our sustainability strategy.

Who we are currently in dialogue with

GreenpeaceSustainable Chemicals Management
Clean Clothes CampaignWorkers’ rights dialogue
IndustriALLWorkers’ rights and living wage dialogue
Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO)Workers’rights
Four PawsAnimal welfare
Ethical Trading InitiativeWorkers’ rights and living wage dialogue
Responsible Sourcing NetworkCotton Sourcing
International Labour OrganizationGlobal Partnership for worker's rights



Responding to input: Improving conditions for migrant workers

In November 2015, the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) drafted a report evaluating the situation of young migrant garment workers in Bangalore. Before publishing the report, Unfree and Unfair, ICN sought our position on the key issues—living conditions and restricted freedom of movement. Our Sustainability, Sustainable Supply Chain and Communications teams provided a comprehensive response that highlighted our commitment to improving workers’ rights in our sourcing countries, clarified our relationship with one of the suppliers mentioned, and explained how we intended to take action on this issue.

We have since addressed the issue in depth with our supplier and are collaborating with two other apparel companies, Inditex and H&M, on further progress. We’ve begun by seeking advice from non-profits and unions on the ground and encouraging more brands to join us for greater impact.

Read the ICN report: Unfree and Unfair
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Partnerships and memberships

Outcomes and impact of our engagement is key

All of our stakeholders are important, but we could never achieve our global sustainability goals without our long-term partners who share similar values and objectives. These key stakeholders also help us to influence the broader apparel industry by putting our collective strengths, skills, and knowledge to work for the greater good. In 2016, we aim to create even more impactful collaborations with key stakeholders working with environmental stewardship and safe and fair labor.

One example of an impactful collaboration has been our role as one of the creators of Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT), a global initiative to unite stakeholders in improving wages through industry collective bargaining in key production countries, world-class manufacturing standards, and responsible purchasing to increase the wage floor. We’ve encouraged the industry to join forces, along with IndustriALL, the global trade union participating in the initiative.

This initiative, combined with industry transformative initiatives like our creation of Cotton Connect, have demonstrated that we are serious about how partnerships can drive systemic industry change.

Partnering for change globally

International memberships

Collaboration or partnershipSinceRole
UN Global Compact2015Signatory
Action, Collaboration, Transformation 2015Founding member
Partnership for Sustainable Textiles2015Member
Better Cotton Initiative2015Member
Organic Cotton Accelerator2014Member
Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety2013Steering committee member
Better Mill Initiative2013Member
Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)2012Member
Forum for the Future2012Member
Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals2011Member
Partnership for Cleaner Textile2010Steering committee member
Sustainable Apparel Coalition2010Founding member
Water Footprint Network2009Sponsoring partner
Cotton Connect2009Founding member
Global Social Compliance Programme 2008Member
Textile Exchange2004Member

Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in Germany

C&A joined the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles in Germany in May 2015. This multi-stakeholder initiative of the German federal government aims to improve social, economic, and environmental sustainability throughout garment industry supply chains. Along with more then 180 other member companies, C&A has committed to pursue the objectives in the Partnership’s Plan of Action and make progress on complex garment supply chain issues more rapidly.

C&A has played an active role in developing the agenda and and participates actively in key working groups: eliminating harmful chemicals, promoting living wages, improving communications, the review process, and fibres. We’re already active in these areas through separate industry initiatives such as the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals and the Bangladesh Accord, and plan to share our knowledge and best practices to support progress.


The members of the Textile Partnership work towards the goal of improving the social, ecological and economic conditions along the textile supply chain. Find out more at:

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