Carter’s is the largest branded marketer of baby and children’s clothing in North America. Its Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh brands are sold in more than 1,100 company-operated shops in the United States, Canada and Mexico as well as through department stores and other major retailers. The company employs over 20,000 people and had $3.4 billion in revenue in 2019.
There is limited information regarding Carter’s overall commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment across its full value chain. The company does not disclose how it integrates these issues into its governance structure, strategy, processes or management systems, or how it engages with stakeholders to manage and improve its gender impacts. While it has established a steering committee to oversee the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts, gender equality is not specifically mentioned.
The company has a gender-responsive grievance mechanism that reflects an understanding of gender roles and the inequalities women face in the workplace, for instance guaranteeing confidentially, allowing concerns to be anonymously reported to someone other than the direct supervisor via a telephone line or email, and non-retaliation and protection of the aggrieved party. It also allows supply chain workers to access this grievance mechanism, which reflects an understanding of gender roles and the inequalities women face in the supply chain.
Carter’s screens for gender-related issues among its suppliers as part of its audit processes, including sexual harassment and discrimination against women based on their pregnancy and marital status. It also requires corrective action to be taken if these issues are identified.
There is limited information to indicate whether Carter’s considers the fair representation of women in the workplace. While the company maintains a gender balance – 40-60% women – in senior management, women are underrepresented on its board of directors (33%) and among senior executives (30%). No information was found regarding the gender balance of the company’s workforce across occupational function or the gender breakdown of employee turnover or absenteeism rates. Neither were there details about professional development opportunities that offer specific support to women employees.
In the supply chain, Carter’s addresses the systemic discrimination that women face by requiring its suppliers to prohibit discrimination against pregnant and married women workers. Though no information was available regarding recognition agreements with local trade unions or collective bargaining agreements currently in place, the company expects suppliers to respect the rights of workers to establish and join organisations without risk of intimidation or harassment.
Details were also lacking concerning gender equality in leadership in the supply chain and whether the company actively procures from women-owned businesses or takes specific actions to increase the procurement spend directed to these businesses.
No publicly available information was found regarding how Carter’s considers the fair compensation of women in its workplace or specifically addresses the gender pay gap. In terms of family-friendly benefits, the company offers four weeks of paid parental leave for eligible US-based employees. However, it does not disclose a global policy of providing all full-time employees at least 14 weeks of paid primary carer leave and two weeks of paid secondary carer leave, as recommended by the International Labour Organization.
In the supply chain, there was no information found on whether Carter’s requires its suppliers to offer their workers formal contracts or a living wage. Neither were details found on how it considers key family-friendly benefits to support workers’ unpaid care burden.
Limited information was found regarding whether Carter’s covers additional costs surrounding the maternal, mental or sexual and reproductive health needs specific to its women employees. The company does, however, offer maternity and post-partum support to its women employees via Maven, a virtual platform dedicated to women’s and family health. This platform also connects employees with medical experts, including obstetricians, gynaecologists and mental health specialists, as well as other parents to provide support surrounding maternity and fertility concerns, new parenthood and returning to work after parental leave.
In the supply chain, Carter’s has not made a public commitment to provide workers with gender-responsive health information and services, for example by requiring suppliers to have an on-site clinic with credentialed health providers. Furthermore, beyond personal protective equipment and adequately lit factory premises, no details were found on whether the company requires suppliers to consider the specific health, safety and hygiene needs of their women workers, for example by requiring suppliers to provide access to drinking water and toilets separated by gender.
Carter’s seeks to provide a workplace free from any form of violence and harassment. Its mandatory annual code of ethics training also addresses workplace harassment. In the supply chain, the company requires suppliers to prohibit violence and harassment of any kind as well as to maintain a formal written disciplinary policy. However, no details were found regarding the company’s effective remedy for violence and harassment grievances reported by its employees or supply chain workers, such as not requiring private arbitration or silencing agreements.
While Carter’s states that it communicates accurately and truthfully about its products, there is no information regarding how it addresses non-discriminatory practices in marketing and advertising, for example by committing to avoid harmful gender stereotypes or ensuring gender-responsive communications and engagement with its customers to support gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Carter’s has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by temporarily closing its stores. Its distribution centres have remained open to fulfil orders placed online, with workplace safety and health monitoring protocols being introduced to protect the health and well-being of distribution centre employees. To create additional financial flexibility in light of lower sales related to the pandemic, the company has also taken steps to reduce costs, inventory commitments and capital expenditures.