How is IKEA supporting ethics within the fashion industry?

As IKEA grows its business in a more ethical and sustainable way, the right partnerships will allow for better sourcing and empowerment of diverse groups

Socially responsibility is represented in various forms within businesses. Corporations contribute to social causes through funding and community actions, but other companies approach ethics by integrating them into everyday business practices. For businesses to establish more sustainable operations, they must look to address these issues long-term. 

One of the best ways for businesses to address long-term issues is through strategic partnerships. IKEA has an ambitious target to eliminate plastic from its operations by 2028 and is working with smaller organisations to encourage more sustainable use of materials and to diversify its products. The company’s new social business partners are all associated with marginalised communities and will allow IKEA to support a diverse group of people while leveraging their expertise in producing products from natural fibres or waste resources. 

Saitex International encouraging social business 

As a certified B-Corporation, Saitex is a denim manufacturer operating in Vietnam and the US with a capacity for over six million garments per year. The company invests a lot of its energy in its personnel through gender equality and encourage great employee relationships. 

According to Sanjeev Bahl, Founder and ChiefExecutive Officer of Saitex, ‘a small enterprise cannot change the world, but you can put your drop into the ocean. And every drop count. Together we can create a future formula for success that could be replicated in other factories. Imagine what a huge, massive dent we together would create on this matter’. 

Sourcing sustainable home furnishings 

Classical Handmade Products specialises in sustainable handmade furnishings, produced with natural fibre materials such as jute, seagrass, water hyacinth as well as recycled textile waste or cotton, and has been chosen as a partner of IKEA for its commitment to local hiring in Bangladesh, focusing primarily on women and those with disabilities that are situated in rural parts of the country. 

Similarly, IKEAs other partner organisation, based in India, Spun produces distinctive products with waste materials and empowers women through the production of exceptionally crafted goods. The business also supports local communities through education, health and environmental programmes.

Why are partners important for sustainability? 

Partner organisations can add a different dimension to a business and provide valuable expertise in the use of alternative materials, especially those in areas of diversity. Incorporating ethical partnerships into its strategy, IKEA will indirectly support the livelihoods of individuals in less developed areas of the world. An added benefit to IKEA is that consumer mindsets are shifted towards circular, more sustainable goods. 

Christina Niemelä Ström, Sustainability Manager IKEA Supply, says, ‘we want to be a force for positive change in society and make a long-lasting impact, locally and globally. By expanding the partnerships with large-scale social businesses, we reach people furthest away from the labour market and at the same time we can inspire other brands and suppliers’. 

For more sustainability insights, check out the latest issue of Sustainability Magazine.


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