Accountable From The Inside Out

C&A Foundation is the first European foundation to sign up to Glass Pockets. Sarah Ong, Programme Manager, Supply Chain Innovation and Transformation, explains why.

Disclosure of transparent data is one of C&A Foundation’s major strategies to improve conditions in the garment industry. We believe transparency is an essential tool to increase accountability in apparel production and much of our support is focused on enabling partners to disclose and use transparent data on supply chains and working conditions. Discovering Glass Pockets, it only seemed right to practice what we preach and make our own way of working transparent too. Our Executive Director, Leslie Johnston explains:

“C&A Foundation is working hard to positively transform one of the world’s most opaque industries: fashion. To do so, we believe in the power of transparency which can move hearts, change minds, and nudge action. It is therefore equally important that we embrace transparency in how we operate. Joining Glass Pockets was an important first step, allowing us both to apply our deep commitment to transparency to ourselves and to learn from others on how else we can be more open.”

Leslie Johnston, Executive Director, C&A Foundation 

One of the things we’ve found from the transparency work we support is that disclosure is more useful when it is standardised, so that performance can be compared versus peers and over time. It is for this reason we believe it’s important to disclose through Glass Pockets.

As a relatively new foundation we are still on a transparency journey. We began by making our external evaluations public, and last year the Centre for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) conducted our first anonymous partner survey. CEP then used the survey results to benchmark our performance against 300 other funders. The results were like holding up a mirror to our own performance. We learned that our first few years as a global foundation have not always been easy on our partners, particularly as we have been developing our processes and strategy. Reflecting on the results, we have identified two priorities for improvement:

Improving the transparency and efficiency of our processes: Survey respondents rated the foundation lower than typical on the clarity and consistency of its communications. The feedback showed we need to be more transparent on what we do and don't fund, and on how our grant making process works.

Improving our quality of relationship with partners: While foundation staff have higher than typical contact with survey respondents, we received lower than typical ratings for understanding of our partners' contexts. Simply, we need to listen better.

Publishing the results of our CEP benchmarking, was part our way of taking them seriously, holding ourselves accountable and letting others hold us accountable to act on what we heard. The survey is a tool to track progress we plan to take it every two years. We hope the changes we have made, and the process of being transparent will have improved the quality of our relationships with our partners and the change we can achieve together.

Participating in Glass Pockets is the next step on our transparency journey. Completing the disclosure has highlighted several more areas where we can be more transparent, and we plan to add to our disclosure over the coming months. For example, we realised that we do not disclose our diversity data or diversity values and policies, which is an oversight since gender equity is so central to our work.

We hope this disclosure encourages partners and those in the communities where we work to help us get better in how we do what we do. Our doors are open for your feedback.