Interview with Anna Gedda

Interview with Head of Sustainability

How have H&M group’s new sustainability vision and strategy been received since their launch last year?
I think our new sustainability strategy has been well received. As it was developed with the support and guidance of leading industry experts with a great knowledge of the current sustainability landscape, we believe that it resonates with many key challenges and opportunities that face the fashion industry.

Since the launch, our focus has been on the long-term implementation of the strategy across the entire H&M group. But alongside our work towards achieving our key long-term goals, we are also continuously adding short-term goals and milestones to really help drive our vision and ambitions forward.

What are the biggest challenges to fulfilling your goals?
The main challenges we face are not specific to H&M group, they are industry-wide. Therefore, solutions cannot be reached by us alone - they all require industry collaboration. For example, our goal to become 100% fair and equal is very much dependent on industry collaboration. While we are seeing good progress with industrial relations and wage systems through our work with ACT and GFA, systemic change takes time. It is a complex undertaking that involves multiple players.

Similarly, on the environmental side, our core goals – to become 100% circular and climate positive – depend heavily on collaborations that will further the development of new technology and innovation. Finding innovations to fill the technological gaps we have throughout our supply chain and bringing these new innovations to market fast enough are two of our biggest challenges.

What are the three main priorities going forward?
Accelerating the move towards full circularity is one of our main priorities. Here our focus is on the continued quest for more recycled and sustainably sourced materials, improved design, production processes and product lifespan. Innovation will be key to achieving our 100% circular ambition.

On the social side, our main priorities are to deliver the goals we set for 2018. Looking beyond this, we will focus on maintaining the stability of our production markets to ensure the provision of good, fair opportunities for workers. Our third priority is to further develop customer engagement around sustainability. We will, for example, continue our commitment to the SAC and the Higg Index, as well as exploring other solutions.

H&M group is one of the world’s leading design companies and to many, associated with fast fashion. Can a fast fashion company ever really be sustainable?
I don’t believe that providing fashion on a large scale and working in a sustainble way needs to be a contradiction. Like many other industries, there are inherent challenges, but for truly systemic change to take place, industry-wide collaboration is essential. At H&M group, we are positive that by working to achieve a 100% circular and renewable value chain, that treats people in a fair and equal way and makes it possible for our customers to make more sustainable choices, we can lead the way to this systemic change and provide truly sustainable fashion to all our customers around the world.

Is H&M group afraid to fail?
We are, of course aware that our strategy is very ambitious and the solutions needed to achieve some of our goals are simply not in place yet. However, a company of our scale and reach has a responsibility as well as a great opportunity to lead the change towards a more sustainable industry. The evidence is clear: our planet is running out of natural resources and our population is growing exponentially so we must be bold and ambitious in our work. Of course, there is always the risk of some failures along the way, but I would rather fail having pushed the boundaries as far as possible than having only done what’s expected.

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