The founder of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, started in his Grandmother’s basement and now boasts about his $5 billion/yr company. Obviously being this large of a company less to press on their actions, at least those that happen in the U.S. Most recently this would include their drop of a sponsorship of a female hunter when her husband posted a video of legally spearing a bear. However, they also are creating new clothing lines that are made in the U.S. to create jobs in the U.S., which does excite some people.
So what about abroad? W hat about manufacturing? Well, for some reason this information is very hard to find. It is easy to find what happens on our homeland, the things that disrupt our lives but it is much harder to fins the things hidden in distance.
Under Armour was called out in a list of 15 companies by the Rainforest Action Network for using materials that are creating deforestation and violating human rights but that is about as far as it went into describing what was happening. Under Armour does out-source their production and claim to make sure they have policies that protect human rights however this is what is said on their own website,
“Under Armour seeks to work with third party suppliers that treat their employees with respect and provide appropriate working conditions for their employees. Under Armour also strives to work with third-party suppliers that meet their obligations to their employees and respect the principles summarized in the Under Armour Supplier Code of Conduct. Under Armour recognizes that conditions in its third-party suppliers’ facilities, and its supplier monitoring efforts may not be perfect. Nonetheless, Under Armour’s suppliers and their supplier’s subcontractors are expected to meet their legal obligations to their employees, and are evaluated to assess whether they respect Under Armour’s Code of Conduct.”
This is not very promising. This is a passive statement that leaves Under Armour room to slide under the legal bar of holding their suppliers to their code of conduct and treating employees with the rights and dignity that they deserve. Companies should not just be trying to work with suppliers that meet their code of conduct they should be enforcing it!
So what conclusions ware to be made?
Because information is hard to come by it shows a great lack of transparency, which is generally an indicator of illegal or inappropriate practices being done. This coupled with their statement that they only ‘try’ to work with suppliers that enforce their code of conduct make Under Armour a company we might want to stay away from.