With Chinese President Will Hu Jintoaâ€™s recent visit to the United States (or equally importantâ€¦some comments to this blog post), and the fact that numerous companies in the outdoor industry employ (in one way or another) people in various countries around the world (China being one of the largest), it brings up many questions regarding the health, safety, compensation and working environments of those people that make all (or at least some of) the sweet gear that we use everyday.
Black Diamond facilities in Zhuhai, China.
While some will argue that whoâ€™s to say what really goes on in warehouses and production facilities in countries like China, companies likeâ€¦hmmm, I donâ€™t knowâ€¦how aboutâ€¦Black Diamond, do everything they can to ensure that all workers are treated with respect, are fully compensated for the work accomplish, have a hospitable work space, are not subjected to force labor, meet all child labor laws, as well as provide a way of monitoring and documenting instances and facilities to make sure all human rights ethics and rules, as well as quality assurances are met. Black Diamond ensures this and assists vendors or partners they do business with by providing the Vendor Code of Conduct (see below), which must be enforced in order to do business with the company.
Buff working conditions for BD camalot assembly in Zhuhai.
Senior management at BD comments, â€œThe health, welfare and safety of all those who manufacture our gear is critically important to us. To that end, we have gone, and continue to go, to great lengths to ensure all manufacturing facilities where BD equipment is made meet our strict Vendor Code of Conduct. We do this via regular fair labor audits.â€ Black Diamond staff also notes that whether at the manufacturing facilities in Salt Lake City, UT, or in Zhuhai, China the working condition standards and product quality assurances are exactly the same.
To further add to itâ€™s commitment to the providing the best working conditions possible, Black Diamond founded the Outdoor Industry Associationâ€™s Fair Labor Working Group and was instrumental in developing the OIAâ€™s Fair Labor Toolkit. The Toolkit is used by many in the industry, combined with Black Diamondâ€™s own Vendor Code of Conduct; BD visits all of their factories and third-party vendors on a regular basis, and inspects every thing from timecards to working conditions, making sure everything is up to code.
BD O1 telemark binding assembly and packaging.
â€œThe factory where our skis are made is two hours from the BD Asia headquarters, and BD Asia employees are over there every week (if not more often) monitoring product during all phases of production and post-production, as well as worker health, welfare and safety. BD USA employees (including designers and quality assurance engineers) are also there every month to ensure product is built to our exacting standards.â€ says BD employee, who has spent the previous five years running things for the company in Asia.
Like many of the BD employees in SLC, those in Asia also have a passion for climbing and skiing, and while recently at the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow, BD Asia representatives went both resort and backcountry skiing. â€œThe climbing and skiing culture in BD Asia is one that we continue to support and grow, encouraging all employees to engage in these sports.â€ BD adds.
In a prefect world, everything we own would be made down the street by people we know and from renewable resources that were homegrown here in the US. But, with the demand from the consumer for quality products at a low price, companies are forced to look elsewhere to meet their needs. Maybe someday, our outlook on products will change and consumers will be willing to pay top dollar for US made products, but until that day comes, companies will continue to manufacture products in other countries. Lucky for us, the people Black Diamond employ in China take pride in their work and produce items that are of top quality and are attained at an affordable price.
Vendor Code of Conduct
Black Diamond Equipment, Ltd
Black Diamondâ€™s Vendor Code of Conduct applies to all parties that manufacture or assemble any product bearing the Black Diamond logo.
II. General Principle
Business partners shall comply fully with all legal requirements of their respective countries and with all other applicable laws, rules and regulations.
III. Employment Standards
A. Discrimination- While we recognize and respect cultural differences, vendors shall hire and compensate employees on the basis of their ability to do the job, rather than on the basis of personal characteristics or beliefs. Black Diamond will seek business partners that share this value, and that do not discriminate in hiring and employment practices on grounds of race, color, sex, religion, political opinion, nationality, social origin, social status, indigenous status, disability, age (except for children), or other status of the individual unrelated to the individualâ€™s ability to perform his/her job.
B. Forced Labor- Vendors shall not use forced labor of any kind; this includes prison, indentured, bonded and otherwise. No employee shall be made to work through force or intimidation of any kind.
C. Child Labor- Vendors shall employ only workers who meet the applicable minimum legal age requirement or are at least 15 years of age, whichever is greater. Vendors shall comply with all applicable child labor laws including those related to hiring, wages, hours worked, overtime and working conditions. Vendors shall maintain official documentation for every employee that verifies the employeeâ€™s date of birth. In those countries where official documents are not available to confirm exact date of birth, the vendor shall confirm age using an appropriate and reliable evaluation method.
D. Wages and Benefits- Wages must equal or exceed the minimum wage or the prevailing industry wage, whichever is higher, and legally mandated benefits shall also be provided. Wages shall be paid directly to the employee in cash, check or the equivalent, and written information relating to wages shall be provided to employees in a form they understand. This written wage statement must include days worked, wage or piece rate earned per day, hours of overtime at each specified rate, bonuses, allowances and legal or contractual deductions.
E. Hours of Work/Overtime- While it is understood that overtime is often required in a manufacturing environment, vendors shall carry out operations in ways that limit overtime to a level that ensures humane and productive working conditions. Employees shall not be required, except in extraordinary circumstances, to work more than sixty hours per week, including overtime, or the local legal requirement, whichever is less. Employees shall be fully compensated for all overtime hours according to local law. Each employee will be informed at the time of hiring if mandatory overtime is a condition of employment. All employees receive a minimum of one day off in seven.
F. Freedom of Association- Participants will recognize and respect the right of employees to exercise their lawful rights of free association and collective bargaining. Where the right to freedom of association is restricted under law, vendors must allow their employees to raise with the vendorsâ€™ representatives any job-related grievances the employees may have, without penalty or reprisal.
G. Disciplinary Practices- No employee shall be subject to any physical, sexual, psychological or verbal harassment or abuse. This includes, but is not limited to, corporal punishment, threats of violence, sexual harassment, and screaming or other verbal abuse.
IV. Health & Safety
Vendors must treat all employees with respect and dignity, and comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding working conditions. A safe and hygienic working environment shall be provided, and occupational health and safety practices shall be promoted. This includes protection from fire, accidents, and toxic substances. Lighting, heating and ventilation systems should be adequate. Employees should have access at all times to sanitary facilities, which should be adequate and clean. The factory must have safety and health policies that are clearly communicated to the workers. These should apply to employee residential facilities, where provided by employers.
V. Environmental Requirements
Vendors must comply with all applicable environmental laws and regulations including, but not limited to, those related to water discharges and air emissions. Vendors must have a current environmental system or plan that includes procedures for handling environmental emergencies. Hazardous wastes must be properly contained, stored and only disposed of at approved facilities. Trained environmental personnel shall be assigned to manage the areas of air and water emissions and waste management. In addition, vendors should aim for progressive improvement in their environmental performance, not only in their own operations, but also in their operations with partners, suppliers and subcontractors. This includes adoption of cleaner production and pollution prevention measures.
VI. Documentation & Monitoring
The vendor maintains all documentation needed to demonstrate compliance with this Vendor Code of Conduct, agrees to make these documents available for Black Diamond or its designated monitor, and agrees to submit to inspections with or without prior notice.