Working With Factories

Patagonia engages in a range of due diligence activities to promote fair labor practices and ensure good working conditions in our factories.

Below are a few of the key tools we use:

Workplace Code of Conduct

  • The cornerstone of our Social and Environmental Responsibility program is our Workplace Code of Conduct and matching Benchmark document. Our Code is based on International Labor Organization (ILO) core labor standards and requires compliance with the country laws where our factories operate.
  • We developed the document so that our expectations are clear to our suppliers. At Patagonia we continuously push ourselves to lead an examined life and improve social and environmental conditions. We encourage our suppliers to do the same.
  • Our Code of Conduct outlines our policies on the following: forced labor, child labor; harassment, abuse and violence; nondiscrimination; health and safety; freedom of association and collective bargaining; wages and benefits; hours of work; overtime compensation; women’s, disabled persons', ethnic minorities' and U.S. veterans' rights; the environment; quality; subcontracting; and compliance with the law.

Fair Labor Association (FLA)

  • As part of its membership obligations, FLA randomly, and unannounced, audits a sampling of our supply chain to assess the quality of our due diligence and help us identify areas of concern. The audit results are posted for public access on the FLA website.
  • The FLA randomly audits at our headquarters Patagonia’s Social/Environmental Responsibility (SER) department and program. We must follow and are audited to the FLA’s Principles of Fair Labor and Responsible Sourcing. They review our factory files, audit reports, corrective action plans, factory and internal training, and other activities with NGOs (our last audit was performed in June 2010). We are up for re-accreditation every three years.

New Factories

  • The director of SER fully participates with our Sourcing and Quality departments in the decision to place products with a new factory. The director of SER has full veto power over choice of a new factory.
  • SER staff screens all new factories for social and environmental compliance with local law and union contracts (if applicable), the Patagonia Code of Conduct and the more detailed Code of Conduct Benchmarks document. Where standards vary, we adopt the one most beneficial to the employees. We also assess the factory’s SER management systems, and train management in our Code of Conduct and other program requirements.
  • The pre-screening is accomplished by either the SER staff or a reputable third-party monitoring firm. This step entails a full social audit, including a payroll analysis and interviews with line workers in the local language. We will not do business with factories where we find child or forced labor, abuse, harassment and discrimination or other practices for which we have zero tolerance. An audit often reveals less serious variances with our Code of Conduct. A factory must agree to remediate all findings before we place our first order.

All Factories

  • SER staff visits factories regularly to assess compliance, follow up on corrective actions from the previous audit or perform consulting, training, and/or concentrated remediation visits for specific SER concerns.
  • We track the minimum or prevailing wages of each country in which we make products and work toward a higher, fair or living wage in our costing negotiations with the factory. As a result of our social audit engagements, frequent visits to the factory by internal staff and FLA monitoring, many of our factories already pay above minimum wage to some or all of their workers. We are committed to achieving a fair wage for all people who make Patagonia products.
  • In 2010 we audited 90 percent of our supply chain for social and environmental concerns. This included subcontractors of our primary cut-and-sew facilities. We either perform a social audit ourselves, hire a third party monitoring firm, or (to reduce audit fatigue in factories) collaborate with another brand or obtain recent audit reports from a credible source on the Fair Factories Clearinghouse database (see below) or the factory itself. Patagonia pays for all social audits that we schedule directly.
  • All audit findings must be remediated in a timely manner. When an audit reveals problems that require in-depth analysis we hire a local consultant to discern the root cause of the problem and then decide whether to pursue a higher level of engagement with the factory in a long-term continuous improvement program to create and monitor a solution.
  • When we require a factory to participate in specific training, education or continuous improvement programs, Patagonia pays for all or part of the consultation, which can last from one month to one year depending on the complexity of the issue.
  • SER staff scores factories on performance to help Patagonia and our suppliers see where they are on the corporate responsibility journey - from implementing basic practices to demonstrating leadership. The internal scoring system is based on existing Fair Labor Association and Sustainable Apparel Coalition tools. It educates suppliers and sets brand expectations for continuous, long-term improvement of social performance.
  • Our California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB657) Disclosure has information on how we monitor our factories for all forms of forced labor, including human trafficking and slavery.

Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives (MSIs)

  • We are a founding and fully accredited member of the Fair Labor Association.
  • We are a participant in the International Labour Organization's Better Work Program in Vietnam and Jordan. We also participate in other MSI's where possible (past projects include FLA 3.0 and JO-IN).
  • We are a member of the Fair Factories Clearinghouse (FFC), from which we obtain third-party audits of our factories and to which we provide our own audit results for other brands to use. We also collaborate regularly with several brands on factory audits and other special engagements.


  • The Footprint Chronicles traces social and environmental impacts of our products and processes.
  • We publish our complete factory list on our website.
  • We publish our Code of Conduct and Code of Conduct Benchmarks on our website.