Bangladesh Safety Alliance Names Chair as Talks Begin

The group of leading retailers and brands who make up the North American Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety has named Ellen O’Kane Tauscher as the independent chair of its board of directors.

The Alliance also said it has been joined by three more companies – Costco, Intradeco Apparel and Jordache Enterprises – bringing the total to 20 apparel companies, retailers and brands.

With the new members, more than US$45m has been committed to administer the programmes developed by the Alliance over the next five years to help improve factory safety conditions for garment workers in Bangladesh.

A two-day board meeting is now underway in Chicago, where members will be briefed on progress toward several milestones taking place next month, including development of a common Fire and Building Safety Standard and Inspection Protocol, and the fire and safety training curriculum that will be given to factory managers and employees.

In September, the Alliance expects to announce the selection of its operating team, including the executive director for the programme.

Leading the board of directors, Tauscher is a seven-term member of Congress and has worked for the US Department of State. She was appointed by president Barack Obama as under-secretary of state for arms control and international affairs, serving in the role from 2009-2012.

When she returned to the private sector in 2012, she joined Baker Donelson Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz PC, in Washington DC as strategic advisor to clients in national security, defence, transportation, export control and energy policy areas.

“The respect Ellen has earned in Congress, the State Department, and the private sector will serve her well in the role as an independent leader and convener who can work with Alliance members and governments to pursue the critical safety mission and aggressive implementation schedule,” said Ambassador James Moriarty, an Alliance board member and former US Ambassador to Bangladesh.

The board also includes three other stakeholder representatives, including Mohammad Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturing and Exporters Association (BGMEA); Randy Tucker, global leader of the fire protection and safety team at CCRD, a Houston-based engineering firm; and Muhammad Rumee Ali, managing director of enterprises at BRAC, the international NGO founded in Bangladesh.

Four Board members from Alliance companies include: Daniel Duty, vice president of global affairs for Target; Jay Jorgensen, senior vice president and global chief compliance officer for Wal-Mart Stores Inc; Tom Nelson, vice president for global product procurement for VF Brands; and Bobbi Silten, senior vice president of global responsibility for Gap Inc and president of Gap Foundation.

Other retailers and brands that have signed up to the Alliance include: Canadian Tire Corporation; Carter’s; The Children’s Place Retail Stores; Gap; Hudson’s Bay Company; IFG; JC Penney; The Jones Group; Kohl’s Department Stores; LL Bean; Macy’s; Nordstrom; Public Clothing Company; Sears Holdings; Target; VF Corp; and Wal-Mart.