W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc. and its subsidiaries (Gore) comprise a uniquely creative, technology-driven Enterprise focused on discovery and product innovation. Gore has served a variety of global markets for over 60 years and has thrived by providing its customers with high-value products that enhance the quality of life. Associates take great pride in being part of a strong global Enterprise and in the broad contributions we make to society. This document provides information regarding Gore’s business practices and how we address the goals set forth in the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010 and the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015.
At Gore, we are collectively committed to fostering a safe and healthy work environment where diverse teams of Associates collaborate to drive innovation, high performance, and responsibly direct their activities to achieve exceptional business results. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our number one priority has been the health and wellbeing of our Associates and the communities in which we operate, while also keeping our business running for essential businesses globally. While we closed our offices, in-line with the relevant Government guidelines in 2020, our manufacturing facilities remained open. However, we introduced changes in working practices to minimize the risks and to protect the wellbeing of our manufacturing Associates. As global citizens, we tried to do our part in the fight against COVID-19 by contributing our time, tools and talent.
For Gore, sustainability means that the value of our innovations is greater than the environmental and social impacts of our products and operations. As such, we fully support efforts to eliminate forced labor and human trafficking. Aligned with our internal guidelines such as the Gore’s Associates’ Standards of Ethical Conduct, Gore Associates are expected to demonstrate integrity in all relationships, including when dealing with suppliers, customers, stakeholders, and other Gore Associates. We have a dedicated Integrity Helpline for the reporting of any violations of these standards or any applicable law, regulation or company policy.
Gore's standard purchasing terms require our suppliers to comply with all laws and regulations applicable to their business, including those associated with modern slavery. Gore does not routinely pursue independent verification in regions where the strength of legal standards indicates the absence of issues related to forced labor or human trafficking. Where we are alerted of potential high risks, however, Gore has introduced further measures to protect workers and ensure transparency. In accordance with our sustainability aspirations and Enterprise values, we are continuously improving our due diligence activities based on the potential risk for forced labor and other human rights issues in our supply chain.
Currently, to highlight the importance of social responsibility, Procurement Associates receive training on human trafficking and forced labor subject matter. The goal of the training is to proactively expose Associates to the signs of forced labor to increase the likelihood that it will be identified quickly and to provide guidance on the steps that Associates should take to ensure our suppliers do not engage in, contribute to, or tolerate forced labor.
The U.S. Department of Labor “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor,” notes that garments, textiles and footwear are at-risk sectors. Gore has addressed this risk by adopting Gore Guidelines on Social Responsibility (GSR). These guidelines set forth our expectations regarding fair labor requirements, healthy and safe working environments, compliance with legal and environmental regulations, and other topics, including prohibition of forced labor and child labor. Gore expects its suppliers, business partners, distributors, and any other representatives in these at-risk sectors to maintain this same level of social responsibility.
Most finished apparel and footwear products made with Gore fabrics are placed on the market by our customers, many of which have programs in place to address forced labor and human trafficking. Gore assists these customers with due diligence over their manufacturing facilities to prevent any zero-tolerance issues.
Gore is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which developed the Higg Index to drive transparency of fair labor conditions within the value chain. The Gore Fabrics Division is an active user of the Higg Index for assessing and sharing sustainability performance of our manufacturing units. In 2018, the Higg Index rolled out the Higg Facility Social & Labor Module, a comprehensive tool designed to assess labor practices, including forced and child labor. Since 2019, Gore Fabrics has been using this tool for assessment and independent, third-party verification of the social compliance performance of our own manufacturing facilities. The results are available on the Higg Portal for our customers to review. We encourage our suppliers and business partners to use the Higg Index to assess their performance on fair working conditions.
Our own finished apparel business GORE® Wear has been affiliated with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) since 2012, adopting that organization’s Workplace Code of Conduct for social compliance in garment manufacture. This requires that GORE® Wear’s supplier facilities conduct business in alignment with the FLA Code of Conduct, which we monitor through third party audits against the FLA Compliance Benchmarks. We also maintain a confidential reporting channel for complaints of non-compliance with the Code. Additionally, independent social audit spot checks are performed by the FLA with results made public on the organization’s website. In 2017, GORE® Wear earned FLA accreditation, the organization’s highest recognition for socially responsible sourcing. In September 2019, Sitka® Gear, another direct-to-consumer brand of Gore, also joined the FLA. Also in 2019, in an effort to combat forced labor, GORE® Wear joined the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and FLA's Industry Commitment to Responsible Recruitment which calls on brands to uphold certain standards when employing or working with supply chain partners who employ migrant employees and to publicly report on their efforts. GORE® Wear reports to AAFA and FLA on the steps taken to implement the pledge. In 2020, in order to enhance transparency and accountability on our sourcing practices, GORE® Wear publicly disclosed its list of Tier 1 supplier facilities, as did Sitka® Gear, with the lists updated on a regular basis.
Since 2014, Gore Fabrics has been reporting on its various sustainability initiatives in the form of annual Responsibility Updates.
Gore strives to be fair to everyone with whom we do business. We value fair labor practices; we continue to review our Enterprise operations for risks of modern slavery and human trafficking as well as other human rights violations and commit to mitigating those risks wherever we find them.
[This statement was approved by the Board of Directors of W. L. Gore & Associates, Inc., on Sep 27, 2021.]