In an interview with The Guardian, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Laureate pioneer of microfinance, proposes an index that would do just that: a transparent system to hold apparel companies and governments accountable for factory and labor conditions.
Yunus' idea is in response to the tragic building collapse in Bangladesh in April that killed more than 1,100 garment workers.
Government, businesses, producers and workers in Bangladesh [should] get together to create a framework that I’m calling [a] garment industry transparency index, so that all these aspects can be collapsed to a number, so we can see at what level you are, what level the industry is, the company is, what level a particular country is.
Because it’s not only for Bangladesh...[it’s for] wherever the garments are produced, [to] use the same index. It’s transparency...so let’s reveal, let’s discuss, there’s nothing to be shy about. This is a business, consumers understand that; if the consumers were told that if you are happy to pay one dollar extra we can do so many other things for the people who work, so that the people at the bottom are not squeezed and squeezed [while] everybody else gets their share.
Similar to the fair trade insignia that symbolizes that the product was produced on fair and accountable principles, the proposed garment industry transparency index would also reveal where companies and governments stand to improve, which may spark better ideas of how to work together, ultimately improving the living conditions of the poor.