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Issue 481, 7 May 2002

Leading companies named and shamed

Leading companies who no ethical code of conduct for their overseas suppliers are named and shamed in a new book by Leeds lecturer William Young and Professor Richard Welford from the University of Huddersfield.

The book, Ethical Shopping, classifies major companies such as B&Q, Sainsbury's, Debenhams and Habitat in league tables, based on information they provide about their fair trade and ethical policies, on issues such as child labour, slave labour, and wider working conditions.

Lecturer in environment and business, Dr Young, explains: "The classification ranges from half a star for companies which have something on paper somewhere, to five star for those who have a comprehensive code including sustainable development and environmental, social and economic issues. No company was rated five star."

Eighty-nine percent of all retailers with their own-brand products produced in developing countries were below the two stars category, meaning they either do not have a code of conduct, are in the process of developing one or have one but without independent inspections.

Those who came top of the table with four stars included Smile internet banking, Traidcraft and the Body Shop.  Among those at the bottom with half a star were Benetton, IKEA, Habitat, Laura Ashley, Dixons and Hamleys.

The book also looks at globalisation in general, what initiatives can be taken to combat child and slave labour and examples of codes of conduct across all sectors, from food, clothing and banking to footwear, health and beauty and home shopping.

Dr Young: "By ranking the companies, we can help shoppers make informed choices about what they buy and from where, so they can shop with a clearer conscience."

Ethical Shopping is published by Fusion Press at £7.99. To order, phone 02079 285 599 or see

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