Letter to key H&M shareholders with the power to improve millions of lives?

This week we wrote to key H&M shareholders, asking them to support the establishment of a special living wage fund for the workers. Here you can read the full letter sent to the CEO’s of Nordea, Folksam, Alecta, Storebrand, Swedbank and AP4, together with the #TurnAroundHM petition handover booklet and our living wage resolution.

We are writing to share our concerns about H&M’s ongoing failure to ensure that workers who make H&M clothes can meet their basic needs, and to call upon you as a major H&M shareholder to address this ongoing human rights violation on a mass scale.

We are presenting you with a concrete opportunity to do so:

At the AGM on 7 May, vote for the shareholder proposal submitted by Clean Clothes Campaign, and approve the establishment of a special living wage fund for the workers who have been making H&M’s profits possible.

Clean Clothes Campaign – a global civil society network dedicated to improving working conditions and empowering workers in the global garment and sportswear industries – submitted this shareholder proposal after a year of active campaigning. The “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign has seen H&M invest heavily in public relations tactics, but it has not resulted in any visible decisive measures that would address the campaign’s central demand: for H&M to live up to its living wage commitment.

We launched the campaign because H&M, as one of the largest retailers worldwide, has the power to bring concrete changes to the fast fashion business model, and it has the responsibility to lead structural improvements which can lift millions of people out of poverty and ensure that the fundamental human right to a living wage is respected in H&M’s own supply chain.

H&M executives made some of the same arguments around the time H&M released its “Roadmap towards a fair living wage” (2013). Yet, despite the commitment made by H&M in that roadmap – that 850,000 workers would be paid a living wage by 2018 – not a single worker has seen that wage materialize on their pay check.

This reality exposes the company and its shareholders to high reputational risks with potential negative impacts on revenues and profits.

One reminder of this is the booklet we are sending you today.

The booklet serves as a way to hand over the petition calling for a living wage for the workers in H&M's supply chain that has been signed by more than 150,000 people. Beside the petition, we also invite you to read some of the personal comments by petition signatories. Many of over 30,000 comments refer to boycotting H&M until workers are paid a living wage, which clearly poses a tangible business risk.

This petition is one of the core activities organised within the “Turn Around, H&M!” campaign, to mobilise consumers and to ask H&M to take concrete and measurable steps to stay true to its commitment, and to respect a fundamental human right that is enshrined in the Universal declaration of human rights.

Thousands of people took part in the Turn Around, H&M! campaign in other ways, for example by taking part in the Global Week of Action, or addressing H&M through social media. All this is a clear sign that H&M customers care about the workers who produce H&M clothes.

As a major H&M shareholder, you have the power to steer H&M onto the right course: toward the actual payment of a living wage. We call upon you to do your part in making this change a reality by supporting our shareholder proposal on 7 May.