Gardena, California-based Next Level Apparel, a designer and supplier of blank apparel used by promotional products, decorated apparel and printing shops, unveils plans to collaborate with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) to improve worker conditions.
The FLA aims to promote and protect workers’ rights through the combined efforts of entities such as businesses, civil society organizations, and educational institutions. The association has a series of criteria, including a code of conduct, which groups must adhere to in order to join the FLA. The code of conduct encompasses various stipulations like nondiscrimination, a restriction of forced and child labor, collective bargaining, and health and safety standards.
“As a participating company of the FLA, Next Level will be implementing the FLA’s Workplace Code of Conduct throughout all suppliers, along with developing social compliance systems that flag issues and lead to sustainable solutions when workers are at risk,” says Carly Gerstman, director of corporate social responsibility at Next Level. While the process has been in the works since July 2019, Gertsman says the company received approval for entry into the organization on Oct. 23.
Though the move is still relatively new, Gertsman points out that Next Level has an ongoing culture of implementing safe, sustainable, and ethical practices. “We have required all of our suppliers to be WRAP certified, and we oftentimes work within our local communities to provide donations and help.” Still, until recently, the company didn’t have a formal corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, she explains. Through entry into the FLA, Gertsman says the company found a more established structure for this type of initiative.
With the FLA collaboration, the company plans to update its Workplace Code of Conduct on the Next Level website and outline sustainability goals. At the end of next year, the company will also release an annual CSR report which details all progress made towards social compliance and sustainability goals.