A Broken Partnership: How Clothing Brands Exploit Suppliers and Harm Workers –And What Can Be Done About It

Broken Partnership
April 2023
Factory safety in Bangladesh has improved, but problems remain.

Ten years after the Rana Plaza factory collapse, a new report from the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights calls for a reformed collaborative approach to the outsourced manufacturing of apparel—one that does not create unfair economic pressure on factory owners, who all too often respond to such exploitation by reducing wages and benefits for their poor employees. Based on interviews with suppliers and workers in Bangladesh, the report illuminates harmful practices of corporate buyers and their representatives, some of which became extreme during the COVID-19 pandemic and persist in more subtle forms today.

The Center’s report includes a series of practical recommendations for how clothing brands and retailers can establish more constructive relationships with outsourced suppliers, to protect the human rights and economic well-being of workers.

Harmful buyer practices include pressuring suppliers for unreasonable price reductions, delaying delivery and withholding payment, canceling bookings and projections, and relying on sourcing intermediaries who exacerbate exploitative practices.

Broken Partnership ReportDownload


See all