Spielwarenmesse: Ethical Toy Program - Interview with Carmel Giblin

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Ethical Toy Program – Interview mit Carmel Giblin
  Movers & shakers

Movers & shakers

Ethical Toy Program - Interview with Carmel Giblin

from Spielwarenmesse eG

The protection of workers in the toy industry and the introduction of ethical product standards is an important issue that ICTI's Ethical Toy Program has set itself. But how can companies become a member of the programme and what benefits does it bring? Carmel Giblin, CEO & President at Ethical Toy Program, tells us this and much more in an interview.


What does ICTI Ethical Toy Program stand for?

Carmel Giblin

Carmel Giblin: We stand for responsible industry and the protection of workers: the responsible supply chain program for the toy & entertainment industries. We work with more than 1,200 suppliers and 1,500 brands, retailers and licensors globally. Our robust social certification program, wide-range of capability building support programs, scalable worker well-being initiatives, as well as our online insight-driven sourcing and business matching platform have earned IETP a reputation of excellence. 

In 1995, the International Council of Toy Industries (ICTI) created a Code of Business Practices - the unified ethical manufacturing standard for the toy industry.

In 2004, ICTI Ethical Toy Program was established as an independent, non- profit organization, to oversee the implementation and certification process in support of the ICTI Code of Business Practices.  Therefore, we have “ICTI“ at the beginning of our name to reflect our long relationship. Our full name is ICTI Ethical Toy Program (IETP).

What is your vision that you are pursuing with the Ethical Toy Program?

C. G.: We are committed to enabling better lives for workers and a stronger industry through ethical production.  We want to provide consumers with confidence when they purchase products from our member companies, and we want to make our members factories the factory of choice for both workers and buyers.

IETP works to facilitate collaborative action, by bringing manufacturers, brands, retailers and civil society partners together to monitor, manage and fix social sustainability issues in the toy industry supply chain and to support the well-being of factory workers.  We will continue to ensure measurable and lasting positive impacts for our community of members.

What measures do you use to support brands, manufacturers and retailers in the toy industry?

C. G.: To build capability, IETP hosts and co-hosts trainings, webinars and roundtables. We also work with global trade fairs such as Spielwarenmesse and sustainability conferences to offer benefits to our members. Furthermore, we operate our unique worker-wellbeing initiatives such as Family-Friendly Spaces, Migrant Parents Training and our free of charge Worker Helpline.

To build awareness, IETP has introduced a risk criticality grading framework for its audit checklist.  This makes it easier for the buyers and manufacturers to evaluate the overall performance of a manufacturing facility, see specific areas of concern (e.g. EHS), and understand the severity of issues.  Our online responsible sourcing platform also provides analytic insights, status alerts, and business matching tools to empower buyers and suppliers alike to achieve their sustainability goals.

In a nutshell, what are the advantages you offer your members?

C. G.: Our buyer and factory members are informed and supported to achieve their responsible sourcing objectives. IETP certifies factories, this means that we are responsible for working with the factory to ensure any issues are addressed, improvements achieved and then maintained.

By working with IETP companies demonstrate their commitment to improve working conditions and improving social standards at scale. Our factories achieve higher employee satisfaction, lower staff turnover rates, as a result realize higher productivity and reduced costs through having a stable and quality workforce.

How can your company become a member of the Ethical Toy Program? What are the conditions for certification?

C. G.: There are two types of members in the IETP program: Buyer members and Factory members. Businesses such as brands, retailers, licensors and agents who manufacture, buy or sell products are welcome to become a Buyer Member and demonstrate their commitment to responsible sourcing. Our buyer members encourage their manufacturers to become certified.

For Factory Members, they join the world’s largest community of ethically certified factories. The publicly available IETP audit checklist has the details of everything a factory needs to comply with to achieve certification. IETP certification covers shared challenges in the supply chain such as Modern Slavery, Working Hours, Wages, EHS, Responsible Recruitment, and Business Ethics. The risk criticality grading of our checklist determines the type of certification a factory is awarded, these include: Certified, Probation, Progressing and In Remediation.

Toy factories in Asia are sometimes highly controversial. How do you describe the current situation?

C. G.: China has a proven record of manufacturing success, with excellent infrastructure and highly developed manufacturing skills. China has been the manufacturing hub for the toy industry for many years and we believe that China will continue to be the no.1 manufacturing location.

The strategy of supply chain diversity presents opportunities for many countries in Asia and beyond. Buyers are currently exploring market opportunities; assessing available resources, manufacturing expertise, country infrastructure etc.

IETP works closely with our buyer and factory members to understand their needs so that we can help them to build the required capability of ethical manufacturing wherever needed. We also work with country level toy associations to leverage their expertise and available resources and collaboratively create a supportive, efficient, and beneficial environment for members to navigate and secure the opportunities made possible in new sourcing countries.

IETP is seeing growth of manufacturing in a wide range of countries globally including; India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Mexico. 

What would you like to have achieved by 2025?

C. G.: An even stronger and more resilient toy industry which continues to grow, enables consumers confidence and is the industry of choice for manufacturing workers.

We strive to be the responsible sourcing program of choice beyond geographic or product category limitation.

We will continue to develop and enhance our services, products and worker well-being initiatives to meet the emerging needs of our stakeholders.

Finally, we see demand from consumers who want to learn more about how goods they purchase are produced and to understand their favorite brands and retailers’ efforts to combat issues such as modern slavery, child labor, and poor working conditions.

Carmel Giblin, thank you for this interview.


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