Female factory worker using sewing machine
Supply Chain Responsibility
We are committed to doing business with manufacturers and suppliers who share our values of respecting the people who make our products and protecting our world. Developing long-term partnerships with suppliers who are committed to developing and implementing labor and environmental best practices is essential to our business.

Supply Chain Transparency 

Transparency is essential for building a safe, fair, and equitable supply chain. We disclose our Tier 1 suppliers through the Open Supply Hub, a free and open repository of supply chain data across retail sectors. We also publish a list of our Tier 1 suppliers, strategic Tier 2 material suppliers, audited footwear subcontractors, and licensees’ suppliers on our website to provide visibility into our production and materials sourcing. 

As a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), we have long supported supply chain transparency and shared tools for the industry, including the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM).

Standards 

We require all suppliers to adhere to our Supplier Code of Conduct, which establishes expectations for ethical behavior related to compliance with regulations, labor practices, wages, humane treatment, and other topics. The Code is based on international, national, and local laws, as well as on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Core Conventions. We publish the Code in over 40 languages; suppliers are required to prominently display copies of the Code in local languages to promote workers’ understanding of its principles and their rights.  Our Supplier Standards Manual helps suppliers implement the Code and we update it regularly to align with changing regulations.  

We are also an accredited member of the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Accreditation verifies that we have systems in place to protect the workers who manufacture our products, based on the FLA’s internationally recognized labor standards. The FLA also assesses a sample of members’ suppliers to ensure members are implementing the FLA Workplace Code of Conduct. Our latest reaccreditation report is available on the FLA website. 

Audit Process 

We assess supplier compliance with our standards through annual audits conducted by New Balance or by a third party. We also audit all prospective new suppliers against social and environmental indicators before working with them.  

Our response to a failed audit depends on the nature of the violation. For all violations, we help suppliers perform a root-cause analysis and develop a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to address the issue and prevent future recurrences.

We give suppliers with minor violations autonomy to implement their CAPs and remediate independently. However, we consider 24 specific noncompliance issues as “zero-tolerance” violations. These include child labor, locked or blocked exits, and absent or malfunctioning fire alarms. When a supplier fails an audit due to a zero-tolerance violation, we work closely with them to remediate the issue and suspend production until it is resolved. 

Continuous Improvement

To support continued growth and adherence to our policies, all strategic and high-risk suppliers undergo regular training by our team or from external experts. We also facilitate supplier-to-supplier trainings on topics such as our Code of Conduct standards, health and safety, employment practices, responsible recruitment, and self-inspection, and we encourage best practice sharing between suppliers.

Beyond Tier 1

Some impacts in our supply chain extend beyond the suppliers with whom we directly contract. For example, our suppliers purchase raw materials such as cotton and components such as zippers from their own suppliers. Nonetheless, we work diligently to understand and take responsibility for the risks beyond our immediate supply chain. 

We continue to monitor the social and environmental impacts associated with footwear subcontractors who perform specialized functions our Tier 1 factories can’t perform on-site, such as laminating and heat embossing. 

Female factory worker cutting material at work station
Labor Rights
The people who make our products — no matter where they are located in the world — should be treated with dignity and respect. We believe they have a right to make their voices heard, earn a fair wage and work in a safe and healthy environment. Over 185,000 workers are part of our global Tier 1 supply chain. By working with our suppliers to uphold and promote good labor practices, we can have a significant positive impact on the lives of many.

Fair Compensation

Part of our mission is to create positive change in communities around the world, which includes paying fair compensation to workers in our global supply chain. Our Code of Conduct requires suppliers to pay workers at least the minimum wage, or the applicable industry wage if it is higher, plus all legally mandated benefits. We ensure that all suppliers meet basic levels of compliance and provide additional resources and support to high-risk and high-volume suppliers. 

We use the FLA’s Fair Compensation Dashboard to analyze self-reported wage data from our suppliers. This data helps us benchmark current wages, compare wages across factories and regions, and develop a blueprint for achieving fair compensation across our supply chain. 

Encouraging Workplace Dialogue

We want to hear from our workforce and have set up ways for workers to safely provide feedback and raise concerns so that we can understand and improve their working conditions. 

Our Code of Conduct requires all factories to have proper grievance mechanisms in place. Workers can report and remediate grievances internally or send them directly to New Balance by contacting CSR@newbalance.com, calling our hotline, or submitting through a new mobile app. We prohibit retaliation against workers who report a grievance. 

Preventing Forced Labor

Our Code of Conduct prohibits suppliers from engaging in any form of forced labor, and our Supplier Standards Manual provides guidance for eliminating risky behaviors, such as charging recruitment fees. The manual also details workers’ rights to take breaks and leave supplier facilities at will, among others. Migrant workers are at a higher risk of forced labor, so we train our suppliers to increase awareness of the risks and indicators of forced labor. We also provide guidance on migrant worker employment contracts and documentation to prevent coercive hiring and employment practices. 

For more information, please see our most recent Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Statement. 

Female factory worker smiling and posing for photo
Women’s Empowerment
Women make up about 75% of the global garment workforce but are often underrepresented in leadership positions in their workplaces and communities. We recognize that women workers often face greater challenges in the workplace related to discrimination and harassment, pay equity and carrying dual roles of working outside the home as well as being a primary caregiver at home. We believe that women in our supply chain should have a voice and equal opportunities to succeed. For that reason, we have committed that by 2025, 100% of women workers in our strategic footwear factories will participate in training and education programs for personal and career development.

P.A.C.E. Program  

In 2019, New Balance was the first footwear company to adopt Gap Inc.’s Personal Advancement & Career Enhancement (P.A.C.E.) program. P.A.C.E. features an innovative, curriculum-based learning program geared toward improving the lives of women in the global supply chain. Participants learn effective communication skills that support better decision-making, problem solving, and time and stress management. P.A.C.E. also teaches practical skills, including financial literacy and water sanitation. We have implemented the program in footwear factories in Vietnam, China, and Indonesia that collectively employ more than 50,000 women workers.

A worker handing a piece of equipment to another worker
Associate Health & Safety
To promote associates’ well-being and provide safe environments where their craftsmanship can prosper, we invest in state-of-the-art safety equipment and empower our associates to protect themselves and each other. Our ability to craft quality products depends on continually meeting standards, assessing risk, and improving our workplaces.

Health and Safety Management 

Safe workplaces start with adherence to international industry standards and local regulations. Our Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) management system aligns with international standards and relevant laws.  

Risk Assessment 

Our site safety coordinators conduct biweekly (U.S.) and monthly (UK) factory safety audits and inspections to identify potential hazards and evaluate compliance with industry standards, our policies, and safety regulations. Audit results help us address issues that could lead to accidents, injuries, or illness and promote a safe working environment. 

Safety Training 

We offer annual safety training to all associates, including through our New Hire Safety orientations and monthly safety topics shared via our EHS training calendar. Through our Industrial Athlete Program, physical and occupational therapists visit New Balance U.S.- owned factories and conduct one-on-one or small group sessions with associates to help them prevent repetitive-motion injuries and other types of musculoskeletal disorders.