BSR conference puts accountability high on agenda for sustainable retail

“Millennials are set to become the predominating force in business by 2025, when they are set to make up a whopping 75% of the global workforce!” says Charlie Ross, Saga Furs Business Manager Sustainability and Supply-chain Management. Ross has just participated in this year’s Business and Social Responsibility (BSR) conference, held in November. “New figures announced by keynote speaker Manny Chirico, CEO of the world’s second-largest retailer PVH, show that 66% of consumers already want companies to be accountable on social and environmental issues.”

The three-day conference, held in New York, convened more than 800 participants from around the world, including senior executives from Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs, foundations and NGOs and governments, all trying to answer some of the world’s most complex sustainability questions. Accountability was a banner theme, particularly when it comes to a sustainable retail sector.


Accountability is about traceability

For Saga Furs accountability in supply-chain management means traceability. The big brands increasingly want to address the question consumers increasingly ask: Where did this product come from and how was it produced? For several years now, Saga Furs has been the only fur seller with its own proprietary traceability system, and the company is working on taking this to the next level with RFID tagging technology which would follow a skin from the farm all the way to the purchase of a ready garment.


Accountability is about direct communications

Another conference message was that sustainability must continue to be in the DNA of a company and not just an add on function for when times get tough. Consumers also increasingly want to talk to brands. Social media communications need to be about transparency and getting others involved, because there’s a lot of knowledge to be gained on both sides.

“We need to openly tell our sustainability story to people even if it is not yet perfect,” Ross explains.” In Saga Furs own research, the company is seeing that Millennials continue to want fur for fashion, but that sustainability must be a guarantee.


Accountability is about leading by example

“For us at industry-level, accountability is also about being the industry role model,” Ross affirms. Saga Furs became an active participant in BSR eight years ago. Saga Furs is also the only fur seller in the industry with its own supplier farmer certification and auditing programmes on farm management, including the environment and animal health and welfare.

Summing up, Ross says: “A lot of key issues raised by BSR industry leaders this year were relevant to Saga furs own strategy and business activities and I’m proud to see that we’re on the right track and leading the Fur and Fashion world.”