People in the textile and apparel industry face many challenges, including poor working conditions, and rising labor costs. Against this backdrop, Esquel is Making a Difference to the livelihoods of over 40,000 employees, their families, and their communities. A testimony to the impact we are making, this video showcases our youngest garment manufacturing site in Vietnam, where our workers fought courageously to protect their second home at Esquel against a riot and a flood.
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She sits on the edge of her thin mattress, massaging an ache in her shoulder. It has been another long day sewing cuffs onto dress shirts. Armed with only a primary school certificate, she left the rural village she called home at twenty, in hopes of lifting her family out of poverty. Working for a garment manufacturer in a slightly more developed town meant affording a fridge, a microwave, and school books for her kid. It has been two years.
Esquel employs over 40,000 staff globally, with close to 100% on a full-time basis. The quality of life, job satisfaction, and health and safety of each of our Esquel colleagues are our utmost priorities. To this end, we invest in the growth, development and well-being of our staff and surrounding communities, and foster a culture and working environment that respect the individual.
We believe in building local operating strengths, workforce skills, and mutual trust among workers, managers and the community. Fundamental to our business is the decision not to chase cheaper labor locations as wages rise. Rather, we commit to improving competencies in the countries where we have an established presence. This is supported by our policy of progressive localization of management and staff, augmented by training and mentorship so that our employees can confidently assume greater job responsibilities as we grow in each country. Our strategy of progressive localization of management and staff promotes in-country job creation, and development and training in international management skills.
This is challenging as worker demographics, and societal landscape and expectations are constantly changing. The remarkable progression of innovation is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another. We can only take advantage of the positive aspects of this digital transformation for productivity improvement and growth promotion by putting people first. We are enhancing competencies and hiring people to become multi-skilled engineers – experts in both equipment operation and team management. This way, we catalyze technological innovation to complement and augment human potential to create inclusive opportunities for economic growth.
Our people strategy goes beyond monitoring and measuring labor compliance and health and safety. We believe in promoting a healthy work-life balance approach for an overall enrichment of the employees and their communities. Here are the results from 2018 that exemplifies our efforts to develop skills, advance careers, and foster mutual trust.
Esquel’s strategy of “grooming from within” means offering our employees continuous training and development opportunities, ensuring success in both their current roles and their future endeavors. Our recruitment prioritizes internal candidacy. We offer career pathways to promising individuals and ensure well-rounded exposure to both company and industry through job rotation and personal mentoring. Planning for our future company leaders is guided by a formal succession system, where potential candidates are nominated by their department heads, then mentored until they are ready for succession. A parallel process is in place for additional internal manager nomination, while alternative consideration is given outside our industry to find the right fit with our shared values and broader market experience.
All employees undergo training for their job-specific functions. Facility managers, in addition to job-specific responsibilities, are trained to manage advanced technical processes within their portfolio. They are also expected to enhance their leadership skills through further training in worker communications, managing the younger generation and mentoring workers under their supervision. Through these added proficiencies, we are transitioning our management teams to lead our next-generation workforce.
We offer self-improvement and lifelong learning opportunities. Esquel University offers a structured curriculum for the training and development of our staff, which is conducted through traditional classroom settings, on-the-job training and online formats.
Esquel’s Management Trainee (MT) and Operations Trainee (OT) Programs have developed many leaders over the past 30 years. Our trainees are offered exciting opportunities to rotate across our global operations, and across departments along our vertically-integrated supply chain.
Working directly with senior leadership, we groom our young leaders in this purposeful journey to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
The breadth of our operations provides our employees with wide exposure to different business functions and work locations to nurture their careers.
“Fun people serving happy customers” is our mission. It is our belief that running a good business requires a healthy workforce, which directly benefits staff recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction. We take a proactive approach to care for employees’ wellbeing and to match today’s social aspirations at the workplace. Our facilities and policies are designed to accommodate employees’ working habits to promote work-life balance. We focus on improving employees’ holistic wellbeing from diet to physical and mental fitness so that they come to work every day feeling empowered and ready to achieve peak performance.
To maintain a thriving and productive workforce, we care for employees’ dietary needs. Our dining halls feature local, seasonal vegetables, with no added preservatives. Meals are served in sets that are put together by professional nutritionists to ensure our employees are enjoying a healthy, balanced diet, and their daily nutrition needs are met.
We are proud of the diverse and inclusive culture that we foster at Esquel. Our global workforce carries a vast array of opinions and perspectives, educational backgrounds, skills, religions, and ethnicities. We encourage proactive, open, and transparent dialogs between employees to continuously challenge the status quo and pursue excellence. Through harnessing the unique strengths of each individual, embracing the spirit of “One Esquel One Team”, we can continue to flourish and grow our business in the decades to come.
We are an equal opportunity employer across six countries.
Providing a healthy and safe environment for our employees is fundamental to how we operate. Following a stringent management framework, operational heads track all accidents and incidents, conduct safety reviews and provide training. Significantly, safety performance is linked to annual bonus assessments. Over the years, our Environmental Health & Safety team has worked to measure and lower absenteeism and accidents.
All Esquel factories have an Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) committee chaired by the director of operations at that site. A safety officer is assigned to monitor and report on performance against internal targets and works with the corporate EHS team and all key managers at the facility. All factories are monitored regularly and undergo stringent safety systems inspections biannually. Audits related to EHS are conducted by internal teams and external organizations, as well as by customer representatives. Areas of importance include fire and building safety, emergency preparedness, dust and noise control, indoor air quality and chemicals management.
The strength and character of Esquel stems from the expectation that each of us will maintain the highest standards of ethical behavior at all times. To safeguard international human rights and ethics in our workplace, we established our Workplace Code of Conduct in alignment with that of the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and other international standards, as well as an internal oversight system to monitor compliance with local labor and environmental regulations and international standards and practices.
We foster a culture of open workplace communications, allowing Esquelers to raise issues without fear of retribution and with confidence that their concerns will be properly addressed. All employees are trained in their workplace rights and ethical behavior. This includes awareness of and appropriate response to discrimination, corruption, harassment, and abuse of employees. In collaboration with the HR and CSR departments, managers cascade this training throughout the organization and report any breaches. All remedial actions are tracked and reported.
Striving to bridge the wealth gap, we aim to consistently increase take-home pay through creating efficiencies in customer order planning and management, productivity at our factories and better quality controls. Boosts in productivity during normal working hours also minimizes the need for overtime. We value the time our people spend building their personal and family lives, and strive to continue reducing overtime, even as we face challenges such as seasonal product demands, pressure for shorter lead times, internal and external supply chain performance, and other unforeseeable events triggered by climate change such as flooding.
Our Workplace Code of Conduct*, established in 2005, sets out our commitment to providing good working conditions and fair wages for all employees. Esquel’s Code is posted at all our operating sites and is translated into the local languages of each location.
Our internal oversight system is managed jointly by the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Internal Audit (IA) teams, with at least one person allocated to each of our facilities to monitor and support implementation. In cooperation with customers and industry stakeholders, we seek better auditing efficiencies to reduce non-value-added audits and build consensus on a common industry standard for auditing.
Esquel uses the rights-based grievance mechanism defined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). We continue to refine each mechanism to fit cultural sensitivities and challenges at each work site.
Esquel closely tracks all employee wage levels to ensure we offer a competitive package to employees of all levels.
We make every effort to reduce the occurrence of overtime and the negative impact brought to our employees. A well-established system is in place to track and monitor instances that require overtime, so that we can study the root causes and work with our business partners along the supply chain.
Award for Excellence in Training and Development
Hong Kong Council of Social Service
10+ Years Caring Company – Since 2009
Human Resources Magazine
HR Innovation Awards
The Hong Kong Management Association
Excellence in Training and Development
Employer Branding Institute, World HRD Congress, and Stars of the Industry Group
Asia Best Employer Brand Awards