The Image GroupThe Image Group

By Brian Kingsmore

Question: Do you know who makes the promotional products you buy? In all likelihood, you don’t. But the people who sell them to you better know.

That’s one of the reasons we ask our suppliers to confirm their compliance with safety and social standards by signing our Commitment to Ethical & Responsible Conduct. Patterned after the PPAI Code of Product Responsibility Conduct, the form includes statements on the vendor’s environmental, safety, and quality commitments. But by signing the commitment, suppliers also attest that they do not abuse labor in any way.

I find it hard to believe that, in 2015, promises to refrain from employing underage, indentured, or slave labor are still necessary. And yet, there are manufacturers whose unscrupulous factories require employees to work long hours at unfair pay and in unsafe conditions. According to the United Nation’s International Labour Organization, nearly 21 million people are victims of labor abuse worldwide.

Common types of labor abuse sound like something from a Charles Dickens novel:

Forced Labor is work performed by someone who has not offered his or her efforts voluntarily. Forced labor, or slavery, is most often extracted by use of physical or emotional threat.

Child Labor involves the exploitive employment of kids between the ages of five and 17. Alarmingly, 11 percent of the world’s children in that age group are victims of child labor.

Debt Bondage, or bonded labor, includes forcing people to work to pay a financial obligation – such as accepting employer-provided housing or food – often with open-ended terms. A family’s debt bondage is sometimes passed from one generation to the next.

Fraudulent Contract Labor refers to requiring individuals to sign a work contract with misleading or hard-to-understand legal terms. The contracts often restrict employees from working elsewhere until their alleged commitments expire.

To be sure, most companies who purchase promotional products never consider the possibility that the items they buy might have been manufactured using forced or child labor. But when problems occur, not knowing about labor abuse carries little weight in court – or among public opinion. That’s why it’s important to do business with a company that thoroughly vets its suppliers.

So even if you don’t know who makes the promotional products you buy from The Image Group, rest assured that we’re taking steps to make certain that our vendors meet all international labor standards.

Brian Kingsmore
About Brian Kingsmore
Who Makes Your Promotional Products?