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Is H&M an ethical and sustainable fashion brand?

H&M, is a multinational fashion brand, based in Sweden and owned by H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB. The Good Shopping Guide has given H&M a low ethical rating. Unfortunately, this brand receives a low Good Shopping Guide Ethical score in our Ethical Fashion Retailers Ratings Table and has not yet met our minimum Ethical Benchmark. This brand has several areas to improve upon before it would likely qualify for our Ethical Accreditation.

In what areas of brand ethics does H&M perform poorly?

The Good Shopping Guide researches brands and companies across many criteria, spanning data and reporting on the Environment, Animals and People.

For our Organic category, H&M scored very poorly, as none of its products is certified by a recognised organic accreditation board, such as The Soil Association, or similar. The use of certifications helps to verify that cotton, one of the “dirtiest crops”, was not cultivated in a way that was hazardous to farmers, local ecosystems, animals, or cotton producers as well as to farmers and cotton growers.

Secondly, for our research criteria that studies brands’ Animal Welfare Policies; H&M scores poorly. Although the brand has a strong Animal Welfare Policy, PETA has previously criticised the retailer for using animal skins. This article describes how calves are mistreated.

For its Code of Conduct, we have given H&M a medium score, as these documents are vague and lacking in detail.

H&M scores perhaps most poorly for its Human Rights track record. The COVID-19 pandemic has trapped factory employees working in the H&M supply chain in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Indonesia into poverty, according to a sobering new study report from the Clean Clothes Campaign. The earnings, working conditions, and labour rights of garment workers in these nations continue to be severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis, according to interviews with 49 textile workers in these countries.

Another report from the Clean Clothes Campaign also uncovered more unsafe working conditions for H&M supply chain workers in Bangladesh. According to this research, the brands that have signed the Bangladesh Accord have reportedly failed to carry out the agreed-upon safety upgrades at their Bangladeshi supplier plants.

Only one-third of the living wage is paid to the average garment worker in Bangladesh. Parents’ decisions to pull their children out of school and let them work have been found to be significantly influenced by low pay and excessive work hours. H&M was mentioned as contributing to this issue in SOMO’s 2017 study, “Branded Childhood.”

These are just a few examples of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB’s poor treatment of workers and People in its supply chain.

In what areas does H&M perform well?

In its Sustainability Report, the H&M Group outlines a number of objectives for 2030 and provides evidence of progress. This is a detailed and well-organised report and accounts for “Material Choice”, “Microfibres”, “Maximising Product Life”, and many other reports that consider the wide environmental impact of the clothing and garment industry. For its Environmental Report, H&M has scored well.

H&M is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative. Being a member of this initiative encourages a company to make progress and work for greater traceability and welfare of workers in its supply chain. It has received a good score for our Ethical Trading Initiative criteria.

H&M also subscribe to the Better Cotton Initiative. This project seeks  “to help cotton communities survive and thrive while protecting and restoring the environment.”

How can the H&M brand improve its Ethical Rating?

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to H&M. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, H&M has several issues to deal with, including its treatment of workers in its supply chain.

If your fashion brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Organic


  • Nuclear Power


  • Better Cotton Initiative


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


  • Other Criticisms+


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