EMERGENCY AID DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

5 min

The Covid-19 outbreak has prompted us to respond through different actions and programmes in order to tackle the health and economic consequences of the pandemic on our supply chain workers and business communities, paying particular attention to those in greatest need. At Inditex, people are our priority.

Community Investment

At the onset of the pandemic, we activated a global emergency relief programme within our community investment effort to which we have donated over €36 million. That effort enabled us to distribute 155 million units of personal protective equipment and other necessities to where they were urgently needed.

In Spain we made the company’s full logistics and procurement capabilities available to the health services and donor businesses and individuals for the purchase and transportation of health equipment.

Between the purchases made by the authorities and private donors, including those made by the Amancio Ortega Foundation and Inditex itself (over €19 million), we have delivered over 150 million items, which were transported in 56 freight aircraft: 2,300 ventilators, 2.5 million N95/FFP2 face masks, over 105 million surgery masks, nearly 38 million pairs of gloves, 425,000 face shields, 450,000 protective suits, 1.3 million surgical gowns, 100 hospital tables, 2 million tests and 17 robots to accelerate test processing.

In addition, we have made more than 140,000 waterproof health gowns in our own facilities which have been distributed locally via the regional authorities.

Furthermore, we have donated 31,000 items from the Zara Home bedding collection (blankets, sheets and pillows) to health centres and homeless shelters, in addition to 258,000 items to people in need. Those 289,000 products have been distributed mainly through a number of organisations with which we work on a continued basis, including charities such as the Red Cross and Caritas and public bodies such as the city council of La Coruña, the regional governments of Galicia and Madrid and the IFEMA conference centre which became a makeshift hospital, among others.

In other business markets affected by the pandemic we have also made additional monetary and in-kind donations.

In China, our efforts focused on the purchase of health material for distribution to hospitals, with the help of the Tsinghua University Education Foundation and the Hubei Provincial Charity Federation. That collaboration enabled the donation of more than 2.5 million items of personal protective equipment.

Similarly in the US, Italy, Mexico and the UK we have made a number of additional donations to charities such as the New York Presbyterian Hospital, American Red Cross, The Door - A Center of Alternatives and the Food Bank For New York City (US); Fondazione Costruiamo il Futuro (Italy); Alianza por el Centro Histórico (Mexico); and Women’s Aid (UK).

 

In addition, in coordination with a number of non-profit associations with whom we work regularly, we have reformulated our collaboration programmes to help them address the new needs emerging around the world as a result of the pandemic. Those initiatives have focused primarily on education around the health emergency, prevention and awareness campaigns, food security[JG1]  and humanitarian relief, framed by our long-standing alliances with organisations of the calibre of Entreculturas, Caritas, Medicus Mundi, Every Mother Counts, Water.org and MSF.

  • With Entreculturas we redirected funds allocated to its Educate People, Generate Opportunities (EPGO) and On the Frontier Colombia programmes in order to purchase equipment and connectivity to help plug the digital divide which has left thousands of children and youths out of the education system; adapt and distribute educational materials for remote learning purposes; raise awareness about the hygiene measures needed to prevent transmission; provide psychosocial support to people during lockdown; and give out food and hygiene kits. Entreculturas is currently providing this aid in the following 13 markets under the scope of its cooperation with us: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Spain, Lebanon, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Uruguay and Venezuela.
  • Water.org has reinforced a number of initiatives with its local partners in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia and India to shore up prevention and hygiene in vulnerable regions and ensure the grant of microloans to fund access to drinking water and sanitation.
  • Our collaboration with Every Mother Counts (EMC) provides quality, equitable, and safe maternity care to pregnant women in Bangladesh, India and United States. As COVID-19 has exacerbated the existing maternal health crisis, making it even more difficult for women to give birth safely and with dignity, EMC has expanded and deepened its support to meet the needs of mothers, their families, and the frontline heroes who care for them. Inditex’s grant has helped EMC to mobilize response efforts in communities disproportionately affected the pandemic, including providing education and telehealth support to expectant mothers and supporting the care workforce directly.
  • As for our programme with Medicus Mundi in Morocco, we have worked with the regional health department in preventing the transmission of Covid-19 and lent support to garment sector workers in Morocco who have been affected by this crisis.
  • With Caritas, with whom we work on training and employment initiatives in Spain, we have been supporting skills training projects to help mitigate the economic impact of coronavirus on the most vulnerable. We have supported alternatives for the provision of online learning and covered the expenses of adapting in-person training for the necessary safety measures. We have also layered digital skill modules into all the training initiatives. We have also guaranteed the continuity of the Caritas Integration Firms which generate safe jobs for people excluded from society, many of which had to close during the state of emergency and reorient their activities towards supporting the social needs emerging in Spain in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Lastly, to note is our continued financial contribution to the Emergency Desk operated by MSF. Made up of a central structure in Spain and regional teams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Ethiopia, it has been battling the emergency since the onset of the pandemic. Its intervention in Spain and globally focus on three lines of work: (i) supporting the health authorities in providing care to patients with Covid-19; (ii) protecting vulnerable and at-risk individuals; and maintaining essential medical services. Here at Inditex we have been financing MSF's emergency relief  budget on a sustained basis since 2011. We also support its ongoing healthcare access projects for the people of Syria, the Rohingya refugee community in Bangladesh and the migrant population in Mexico. MSF's work in these areas is centred around providing the best care and treatment possible to patients with Covid-19 and other medical problems and on continuing to collaborate with the authorities, the WHO and other key healthcare players on curbing the spread of the virus.
Social management of the supply chain

The health emergency has brought common challenges for management of the global garment supply chain from a social perspective, albeit of varying intensity depending on the market. Here at Inditex we have articulated our response to those challenges around three lines of action: contributing to safeguarding workers’ health; collaboration with stakeholders; and support for suppliers.

 

Health

We have stepped up contact with our suppliers and the benchmark entities in the various markets in which we produce in an attempt to ensure that all of our manufacturers are implementing appropriate health and hygiene measures. Guaranteeing safe and healthy work environments for all of the people working in our supply chain is one of the priorities of our “Worker-Centred, 2019-2022” strategy.

To that end we are creating guides based on WHO recommendations and checking the application of the specific health and safety guidelines in each market.

Stakeholders’ collaboration

We have taken a proactive stance since the onset of the pandemic, joining forces with the leading organisations that work to protect workers' rights: IndustriALL Global Union (with whom we have a long-standing global framework agreement), the Ethical Trading Initiative and ACT (Action, Collaboration, Transformation).

We have endorsed the COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry initiative, a call to action designed to provide an urgent response to the global garment industry in light of the economic ramifications of Covid-19, the priority being to protect garment workers' income, health and employment. That document was formulated by the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and IndustriALL Global Union, together with global brands and manufacturers  and with the technical support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The signatory organisations - employers, unions and brands - have established the following priorities:

  • Fostering governments and financial institutions to accelerate access to credit, unemployment benefits and income support, among other forms of support for suppliers and manufacturers.
  • Commitment of engaging with financial institutions, governments and donors to support rapid and innovative fund-mobilisation. There is a focus on supporting enhanced social protection schemes and actions to preserve jobs.
  • The funds mobilised will be used to enable manufacturers to ensure business continuity, including the payment of wages to all workers.Promoting respect for the ILO core labour standards, as well as safe and healthy workplaces.
  • The organisations endorsing the call to action, within their areas of influence and expertise, have committed to supporting the development of social protection schemes for workers and employers in the garment industry.

The international working group created to implement the call to action is made up of 13 signatories. Inditex represents the brands, together with one other sector player. After analysing different criteria, it was first decided to focus the efforts in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Myanmar and Pakistan, without dismissing the possibility of extending them to other markets.

Support for suppliers

In line with our responsible purchasing practices policy, we have guaranteed payment for all orders already placed and in the process of production, upholding the original terms and speeding up payment in the instances in which logistical issues were impeding delivery of the merchandise.

We are also working actively with a number of financial institutions on the creation of financing mechanisms for our suppliers and manufacturers to help them get through the economic impacts of the pandemic, prioritising wage payment guarantees and the application of the health and safety measures needed to prevent the transmission of Covid-19.

As part of those agreements, which are already up and running in Morocco and Bangladesh and under development in Pakistan and Myanmar, Inditex has committed to channelling payments to producers availing of those credit lines through the participating financial institutions.