At Dr Martens we stand for doing the right thing, we always have and always will. This holds true across all of our own operations, as well as being the driving force behind the relationships we have with our key partners. To us it’s much more than a box-ticking exercise, it’s about getting involved where we need to in order to really make a difference, whether that’s a particular project with one of our suppliers to resolve an issue or our on-going work to minimise our environmental footprint. We’re proud of everything we have achieved so far and are looking forward to continued progress in the future.
For Dr Martens the workers in our supplier factories are just as important to us as our own employees, we believe that everyone in our supply chain should be treated fairly and with dignity.
A key part of our strategy is to have long-term relationships with a small number of key partners. This allows us to build stronger relationships with a deeper understanding of the issues faced by our suppliers and creates an environment of trust and transparency.
Code of conduct
Our code of conduct is at the heart of this work, it and sets out our expectations from suppliers across covers a number of key areas:
- Employment is freely chosen
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
- Working conditions are safe and hygienic
- Child labour shall not be used
- Living wages are paid
- Working hours are not excessive
- No discrimination is practised
- Regular employment is provided
- No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
Detailed audits against our code of conduct at our supplier sites form part of our on-going work, but of greater importance is working with and supporting our suppliers to remedy any non-conformances that we find and where necessary providing them with the additional support and resources that they need to do this. Once an action plan has been agreed to remedy non-conformances, we monitor it on an on-going basis to ensure that the required improvements have been put in place. We will not continue to work with suppliers who are not committed to making improvements and we will not start working with any new suppliers who have critical non-conformances.
The footwear suppliers we work with all set a minimum age of 18, however this is still something that we monitor extremely closely and have age verification guides that we share with our suppliers for all of the countries we source from. In the event that we were to find an incident of child labour, we subscribe to Impactt’s Operational Procedures for Remediation of Child Labour in Industrial Contexts. To read more about these procedures, follow the link below:
Health and safety
Health and safety management is an on-going challenge for all of our suppliers and generally accounts for a high proportion of all issues identified. We therefore decided it was particularly important to work with our suppliers to implement robust procedures to manage health and safety. Dr Martens’ local employees in each of our source countries attend regular health and safety meetings with all of our suppliers. We have developed and rolled out a number of tools to support this work, including:
- H&S Toolkit
- PPE Guide
- Needle and sharps policy
Subcontracting and homeworking
One of the biggest risks in sourcing from other countries is the use of subcontracting and homeworking. We have a policy in place with all of our suppliers that requires them to disclose any potential subcontracting or homeworking before going ahead so that we can review the proposed site. As we work very closely with our suppliers and understand their production processes to a high level of detail, the risk of any subcontracting or homeworking taking place without our knowledge is greatly reduced.
Conflict minerals policy
This policy was put in place to ensure that any metallic trims used in the production of Dr Martens are free of conflict minerals. The UK government’s guidance on conflict minerals can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/conflict-minerals
#Environment – Product
Our products have always been built to last but it’s equally important to us to develop and manufacture sustainable products that are safe for consumers and have a minimal impact on the environment. We currently do this in a number of ways and are committed to continuing to explore opportunities to improve the sustainability of our products and reduce their impact on the environment through research and innovation.’
Leather Working Group
We are members of the Leather Working Group (LWG) (http://www.leatherworkinggroup.com/), which is facilitated through the BLC Leather Technology Centre and is a coalition of brands, suppliers, retailers, leading technical experts and NGOs. The aim of the LWG is to raise environmental standards throughout the industry and to develop best practice standards. Member tanneries are audited by specialists against stringent criteria (including emissions to effluent, emissions to air, solid waste streams, energy consumption, water usage and adherence to restricted substances legislation) and those meeting the required environmental standards are awarded gold, silver, or bronze medal standard. In 2015 96% of all of our upper leather was sourced from LWG medal status tanneries.
Our tanneries using Brazilian hides are all members of the LWG traceability project which ensures that each hide can be traced back to registered farms that are not contributing to amazon deforestation.
Restricted Substances Policy
Our restricted substances policy is another key part of our overall environmental performance in ensuring that our products comply with all relevant legislation in all of our markets, this includes EU REACH legislation, California Prop 65 and CPSIA. Every new material and component used in our products goes through a thorough testing program and this is monitored further in bulk production through on-going testing. We also recognise the impact of the chemicals used in the production of our products, not only from an environmental perspective but also for the health of the workers in our own and supplier sites and are constantly striving to use cleaner and safer chemicals.
Our standard shoebox is not only fully recyclable but is made from 100% recycled materials, it is printed with soy ink, which is solvent-free and easier to recycle than traditional inks.
At Dr Martens we believe it is important to understand where the materials used in our products come from and how they were produced. This involves not only looking at the types of materials that we use in our products, but also where and how the materials that we do use are produced.
Leather (predominantly bovine) is the main material used in most of the footwear and accessories that we make, we therefore put a lot of emphasis on ensuring that it is sourced responsibly and all leather used in our products is a by-product of the meat industry.
We will not use any of the following:
- Animal Fur – this includes farmed fur as well as fur which may be a product of the meat industry.
- Endangered Species – this includes all species listed on the CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) lists of endangered species. Further information can be found at:
- Leather or skin products from exotic and wild caught animals – including alligator, crocodile, lizard, snake and reptile skins.
#Environment – Operations
Our environmental impact is something that we take very seriously across all of our operations globally; we have a number of initiatives in place to improve our energy efficiency and to reduce the amount of waste we generate, some of these are described in more detail below.
Our ‘Give a Toss’ campaign was launched in 2015 with the aim of reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. This started with the installation of recycling centres at our UK offices and distribution centre:
- Recyclable waste is collected and sent to recycling centres for processing, cardboard waste is all taken back to our distribution centre to be compacted and sold on (the revenue generated from this covers the cost of our recycling programme and funds its further development),.
- Other waste is sold on for sorting and processing and is ultimately turned into playground matting and athletics tracks.
- Any waste leftover after all of this is sent to our local Materials Recycling Facility where it is sorted, processed and turned into fuel pellets, the pellets in turn are burnt as fuel to generate energy to send back to the grid.
The result of this campaign is that we are now only sending 3% waste to landfill from these sites.
In a similar way our US office has partnered with the City Of Portland on green initiatives, as well as recycling cardboard (3.6 tonnes per week) and plastic, they have a scheme in place to recycle batteries and small electrical appliances.
Energy efficiency has been another key target across our sites globally with investment in areas such as energy efficient air-conditioning, IT and light bulbs, along with movement sensors for lighting. We measure and monitor our power consumption and our UK energy is purchased from renewable.
In 2014 we opened a new state-of-the-art UK distribution centre, sustainability was at the heart of its design; some of the key features are:
- Solar thermal panels to heat hot water – enough for 20% of annual consumption
- Rain water harvesting for flushing toilets
- Energy efficient lighting (internal and external) with daylight sensors for greater efficiency
- Energy efficient air-conditioning throughout
- Building certified as ‘very good’ to BREEAM standards
We also support our employees to reduce their own environmental impact (and improve their fitness, health and wellbeing) by participating in the Cycle To Work Scheme in the UK and in the US by reimbursing bike-related expenses up to an agreed amount per month.
As a company we support the Joe Strummer foundation which promotes social mobility through music (http://joestrummerfoundation.org/). The foundation was set up by friends and family of Joe to give opportunities to aspiring musicians and to support projects around the world that create empowerment through music. We support the foundation in a number of ways:
- A donation was made to the foundation to keep a recording studio in Sierra Leone open that works with disadvantaged and homeless young people.
- A 50p donation is made to the Joe Strummer foundation for every copy of the Dr. Martens book ‘A History of Rebellious Self Expression’ that is sold in our own retail stores.
- Proceeds from all carrier bags sold at our UK retail stores are donated to the foundation.
- We provide live performance opportunities for bands supported by the foundation, for example on Dr Martens activation tours or at other promotional events.
- Bands have provided tracks to be used in Dr Martens brand content.
It’s also important to us that we support the communities that we operate in as well as causes that are important to our employees. Recent events that our US and UK employees have organised or taken part in are:
- RockSolid obstacle race to raise money for Cancer Research UK and Rainbows Hospice
- Macmillan Coffee Morning for Macmillan Cancer Support
- Wear It Pink Morning for Breast Cancer Now
- American Red Cross Blood Drive
- Stand Together Week in Portland, Oregon helping clean the rivers
- Volunteer events for Two Ten the Footwear Company
- Donations to local Charities during the holidays
- Participation in local Community Supported Agriculture Program
Dr Martens supports this activity by making its own financial donation on top of any funds raised by employees.