Textile (apparel and gear) manufacturing is sadly a brutal industry. Reports of human trafficking, death from factory fires, forced labor, and below-poverty level wages are routinely reported by industry watchdogs. We’ve been able to avoid these issues in our supply chains for several reasons:
Peggy, a long-time Diamond Brand sewer
- We’ve spent over one hundred years building a supply chain made of people who share our vision for the highest quality materials. We’ve often found these partners domestically and have been able to visit them regularly to understand how the materials we use in our craft are made.
- We value craftsmanship and we’ve learned that skills are shared and passed along. We try to retain our craftspeople by treating them like family in order to retain and enrich that knowledge.
- We try to provide value to our customers through the design of high-quality gear that might cost a little more up front, but will last many years with proper care—we’ll even help repair gear as needed.
In other words, we’ve been able to avoid the pitfalls so common in the production of fast fashion.
Our outlook towards how we treat the people who make up the Diamond Brand Gear family—our employees and craftspeople—is representative of the ethos we follow under the guidance of a triple bottom line sustainability framework.
The Triple Bottom Line
The triple bottom line (TBL or 3BL) framework was formalized a little over 25 years ago and it is often referred to simply as a “People, Planet, Profit” approach to sustainability. And yet, it is intended to be far more than an accounting tool used to tally up social and environmental impacts versus sales. A full realization of this framework requires deeper thinking about how economic systems work (or don’t work) and how we could create a form of capitalism that does more than generate monetary profits, but actually does good things for people and the earth.
At Diamond Brand Gear, we define our version of the TBL as a framework that accounts for the wellbeing of our craftspeople, our communities, and the Earth. And we acknowledge that for our craft to thrive well beyond the next 138 years, these three forces must be nurtured with equal importance—a challenge we humbly accept.
Our first triple bottom line commitment is to our employees:
We’re proud to make 100% of our products in our Fletcher, North Carolina factory—and we’re proud to be a great place to work. This factors in the number of adults in the household who are working and the number of children they are supporting. In addition to base wages, we also have a Gainsharing Program in which we split a portion of our revenue 50/50 with employees at the end of each month.
Our goal is to have 100% of employees participating in this program by the end of 2020.
Maria and Lisa from our Senior Staff
As family, we understand that life can give us lemons at any time. We provide an Employee Assistance Program that helps our family members through times of exceptional need with marriage, the birth of children, substance abuse, personal finances and continuing education. It’s our duty and honor to stick by our people who show up daily to help us succeed.
We’re honored to have a diverse workplace. Our goal is to make sure that everyone receives information in their language of fluency and we’re working on providing translations for Russian and Cambodian speakers. We believe that everyone should be enabled to have access to the same information and be empowered to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.
Our commitment to family extends into our community and we support our employees’ efforts to generate positive change by offering paid volunteer time. Many of our employees use PTO for volunteer work and we’re working to encourage at least 50% of employees to participate by 2021.
Our motivation to treat people like family is embedded in our personal philosophy to simply do what is right by others. We believe that the world is a better and healthier place for all of us when people can feed their families, take vacations, and feel appreciated at their workplace.
If we were to make the business case for this, we could cite financial savings from reduced employee turnover, innovation & efficiency gains from experienced employees, and a higher quality employment pool. Additionally, there is an increasing demand by customers to know how, where, and who made the things they buy. Supply chains with basic human rights violations are a risk to a brand’s reputation, even if the labor costs are extremely low.
And to that extent, we hope that people appreciate our commitment to treating our family like family and that it encourages them to pick our products over a competitor.
For businesses that want to produce goods domestically, we are here to say: it’s possible, and we’ll show you how. We’ve done it—just ask. Together, we can craft a new textile industry that values people and their contributions to the health of our companies.