Interview with Elizabeth Kuiper on the ETSA Corporate Social Responsibility Award

 

Introduction: The ETSA Awards stand out as a source of inspiration for businesses in the textile sector in a world where sustainability and corporate responsibility are becoming more and more important. As a member of the judging panel for these esteemed awards, Elizabeth Kuiper, Associate Director of the European Policy Center, contributes her knowledge of gender diversity, social policy, and sustainability. She obtains a distinctive viewpoint on the textile industry's response to contemporary issues, such as the pressing need for a more sustainable and just future, as a result of her experience. In addition to celebrating success in CSR, this conversation delves into the significance of the ETSA Awards as a driving force behind the industry's wider shift to sustainable and socially conscious operations.

Question: How has being a part of the ETSA Awards judging panel impacted your view of the overall textile industry and textile service value chain?

The EU Green Deal, including the 2023 EU's Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, has reinforced the urgent need for businesses to turn talk into action, amidst the intensified environmental crisis and political instability of today's world.  The textile industry has a key role to play in addressing the climate crisis and being part of the ETSA Awards judging panel allowed me to learn more about the latest textile policy developments.  

KuiperQuestion: How do you envision the future of the textile services industry within the context of Europe's evolving relationship with work and industry and what role do you see awards like ETSA playing in that future?

The fine balance between ambition and accountability requires a new generation of leadership and stewardship where the gender gap is closed and the talent pool widened. Considering nearly 60% of garment workers globally are women, they are key to help the overall textile industry deliver on the green transition; research shows that companies with women on boards are more likely to deliver on sustainability-ESG targets. The ETSA Award helps improving awareness of the importance of the industry in creating a more circular and innovative textiles sector.

Question: What are some of the biggest challenges you believe companies are facing today, and how can awards like ETSA help address or mitigate them?

The textiles sector has a huge role to play in the planetary crises. Most businesses are now under pressure to improving sustainability and transparency and go beyond greenwashing. Especially for smaller companies in the sector, navigating the landscape of changing EU regulations and understanding their impact can be challenging. The ETSA Award puts the spotlight on the importance of the wider social and environmental impact of the sector and the need for transparency and accountability to consumers.

Question: In your opinion, what long-term effects do these awards have on the standards and practices within not only the textile services industry, but adjacent industries as well?

All industry sectors need to work towards boosting circularity and invest in quality materials that enable reuse, repair & recycling. More transparency is needed about how products are designed, produced and disposed of. The textile industry should strive to become an example for other industries and show how innovation can reduce environmental impact at every step in the supply chain.

 

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