Building Ethical Supply Chains: The Case of H&M in China


The fast-fashion retail giant H&M has effectively been canceled in China following the company’s decision to stop using cotton from the country’s Xinjiang region after reports of human rights abuses and forced labor camps. Retailers have banned its clothing from online shops and scrubbed its signage and logos from storefronts and maps, state media and social networks are boycotting the brand, and influencers and celebrities are speaking out against the company’s decision. Although H&M announced its plans for a more ethical supply chain last year, the debate has resurfaced following a string of recent sanctions against China (namely from the United States, European Union, Canada, and Britain), resulting in the ongoing boycotts. This case reviews the issue and asks students to discuss the balance between profit and ethics in building supply chains.

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