In episode 197, Kestrel welcomes Dr. Hakan Karaosman and Professor Donna Marshall to the show. A sustainability management professional and award-winning researcher, Hakan is also a fashion supply chain and sustainability expert at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. Donna is a Professor of Supply Chain Management, Head of Research, Innovation and Impact, and the Director of the Centre for Business and Society at University College Dublin.

The European Commission recently awarded Donna and Hakan with the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship award for their forthcoming project, FReSCH (Fashion’s Responsible Supply Chain Hub) to be conducted at University College Dublin.

“In times of uncertainty, bureaucracy doesn’t work, hierarchy doesn’t work — and we need to have these much more flat network systems, which seem to be much more innovative, much more agile — and that’s really about tearing down some of the cultures that are really embedded within the fashion industry at the moment. ”
-Donna Marshall, Professor of Supply Chain Management

On this week’s show, both Hakan and Donna share more on how the fashion industry needs to work to take the ego out of the way they do business — and according to their research, this will actually be “good for business”.

Donna shares more on how simple shifts in the words we are using can make significant changes — that certain words reinforce hierarchical frameworks, while others can reinforce collaboration. For example, shifting the job role name from “buyer” to “relationship manager” made a massive positive impact on one multinational company that she and Hakan have worked with.

For both Donna and Hakan, transparency is important and a powerful first step, but it is absolutely not synonymous with sustainability, and must be looked at across every area of a supply chain.

The below thoughts, ideas + organizations were brought up in this chat:

  • “Unfortunately, fashion betrayed its own values.” -Hakan

  • “To me, the future will be something in which growth will not be measured only by financial terms — it will be really about a system that is socially just, economically inclusive, and environmentally regenerative.” -Hakan

  • “I say the solution will be shorter supply chains, which we can actually control.” -Hakan

  • Fashion Revolution Transparency Index

  • “One of the things that we’ve found again and again with multi-stakeholder initiatives that are being really successful and actually bringing radical transformation and change — both socially for people and environmentally for the planet — is around inclusiveness and representation.” -Donna

  • “And unfortunately this current fashion schedule that we all criticize, that should change, doesn’t allow us to listen to people, and unfortunately the leg of empathy is a bottleneck in the fashion industry, so people don’t really interpret or listen to what workers are dealing with.” -Hakan

  • Better Work Initiative

  • Greenpeace Detox My Fashion

  • “Transparency is now being seen by investors, by the big pension funds, as really a proxy for good business.” -Donna

  • “Brands will be remembered for what they did in this crisis.” -Hakan

  • Hakan will be curating and moderating a session on climate change and the circular economy for the forthcoming Fashinnovation Worldwide Talk on June 5th 

  • Donna and Hakan will be giving a keynote for this online webinar co-organized by The Financial Times on June 18th

  • More on Donna + Hakan’s forthcoming project FReSCH:
    FReSCH will be one of the first research projects to investigate economic, environmental and social sustainability to understand the trade-offs, tensions and outcomes between them in the transition to a low-carbon circular fashion industry. By using a novel methodology, simultaneous multi-level action research, with a brand name company and their supply chain, FReSCH will take a top-down and bottom-up approach by examining a fashion supply chain in transition to uncover the realities of SME suppliers and their workers. The outcomes of the project will provide insight into the economic and environmental demands placed on suppliers and how these impact working conditions and human rights practices. The project will also show how companies can use worker self-determination practices to solve problems in and across supply chains.