Our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is based on a simple principle: that Mulberry will make a positive difference to its people, the environment and the communities in which it works. We actively encourage our employees to find new ways of meeting our wider responsibilities, and as a company have focused our initiatives in six key areas:
Health and wellbeingDownload Mulberry’s CSR approach as a PDF document
Our activities are driven and monitored by a CSR steering group, composed of individuals representing key parts of the business. The group meets four times a year and reports back to the Board on its discussions, plans and achievements.
People, Fair Partners and Community Involvement
Our apprenticeship programme has been running at The Rookery since 2006. The intention is to develop the skills of our employees in a way that will allow them to become accomplished craftsmen and craftswomen, or, see them grow their understanding of retail marketing and management practices. Our desire, first to retain and then increase the level of manufacturing we carry out in the UK – something of a rarity in this day and age – has seen the factory become one of the largest accessories manufacturing facilities of its kind, responsible for 25% of our handbags.
The apprenticeship programme operates in conjunction with the Government, supported by Skillfast UK and Bridgwater College and was one of the first of its kind in the UK. In the first six years of operation 56 apprentices have joined the 18-month training courses, and a further eight will join over the next few months. As a result of the success of the programme, we have a waiting list of 70 young people aspiring to join our production line team, and we’ve been able to introduce lean manufacturing techniques to the factory.
The programme has also received national recognition. In February 2010, we were proud to receive the National Skills Award, given to acknowledge excellence and world class performance in manufacturing. Plans are already in place to further expand opportunities for apprenticeships at Mulberry.
Employee development is not restricted to our Somerset manufacturing operation, nor are our energies solely focused on Mulberry people. We offer internships at our London offices, and we have recently started offering NVQ qualification programmes within our retail business. We are proud supporters of Graduate Fashion Week, and sponsor the Mulberry Accessories Award, where the winner receives a three-month placement with our Design team. And we are also actively involved in the Graduate Fashion Week Mentor programme, supporting students as they take their first steps in the fashion industry. Nurturing new talent has always been a key element of Mulberry’s success, and our support for these initiatives is part of a broader commitment to give something back to the British fashion and retail industry.
As far as is possible, we manufacture as much of our own product as possible at our Somerset factory. However, there are certain cases where we need to work with a select group of suppliers elsewhere in the UK and overseas. We expect these suppliers to create a suitable environment for their workers, and ask them to adhere to a set of standards called the Mulberry Global Sourcing Principles. We are committed to enforcing these standards though regular inspections of supplier facilities by our own employees and by third-party auditors.
Mulberry actively donates money, product and support to charities in our local community and across the wider industry. These charities are predominantly involved in assisting education, design, craft and music and aiding the welfare of people and animals. We encourage employees fundraising efforts by committing to matched donations. In 2012, we made a conscious decision to provide additional support to six further local and national charities.
The charities are:BIBIC
– British Institute for Brain Injured Children – helping children throughout the UK with brain conditions that affect social, communication or learning abilities.Rainbow House
– supporting the families of children who are going through life with a threatening or terminal illness.Passage
– a day centre that supports homeless or vulnerable people in London.The Kids Company
– supporting children who have suffered abuse.Dorothy House Hospice
– a charity based in the South West that offers support to families affected by life threatening illnesses or bereavement.Julian House
– a charity that offers support to homeless people in Bath and North East Somerset.
The quality of our product is fundamental to our business and reputation. In the past, transporting the things we made involved using individual cardboard boxes and paper packaging sheets to make sure that products were beautifully presented to our customers. Today, having taken a very close look at alternative packaging ideas and techniques, we have achieved a 30% reduction in cardboard waste, and, further reduced our carbon footprint by decreasing the size and weight of our delivery materials overall. Of course the packaging’s main role – to ensure the safe transit of the product – has not been compromised.
Investing in the latest technologies and awareness raising activities among employees are just two methods we are using to help reduce our energy consumption. A brand new extension at our Somerset factory gives us the ability to harness both sunshine (through solar thermal cells) and rainwater, helping improve the efficiency of our day-to-day operations.
We recycle as much material as possible from our UK sites. We have set up a number of partnerships with scrap stores local to our Somerset factory that will see them offer off-cuts of leather to community arts and crafts groups.
We are members of the Sustainable Luxury Working Group, a group of companies that produce luxury goods and that share a commitment to advancing good social, environmental and animal welfare practices in their operations. With the other members of the group, we created animal sourcing principles that we strive to follow in our sourcing practices, which state that:
We are committed to ethical practices in the catching, maintaining, breeding, raising, transportation, handling, and slaughter of animals in our leather, fur and exotic skins supply chains.
We are committed to sustaining well-functioning and bio-diverse ecosystems in the regions where we source. This includes maintaining species populations of wild animals at sustainable levels as well as to source only material of animal origin that stem from legal sources. Download a full version of our Global Sourcing document.