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Victoria's Other Secret

analysis of allegations that Victorias Secret uses cottom from farms that exploit child labour

Atheena peter

on 28 June 2016

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Transcript of Victoria's Other Secret

What comes to mind when you think Victoria's Secret?
Victoria’s Secret is a popular American retailer of women’s wear, beauty products and lingerie.
Part of and the largest segment of Limited Brands; an international organisation that sells personal care, beauty products, lingerie, accessories and apparel.

Founded by Roy Raymond in 1977, San Francisco
$80 000 invested into the first store at Stanford Shopping Centre, followed by a mail order catalogue and 3 more stores.
Every store featured Victorian Decor to make men feel comfortable.
After 5 years of opening the store, Victoria's Secret made 6 million profit per year and was sold to Limited Brands in 1982.
Nowadays Victoria's Secret is one of the top ten well known lingerie brand and leading specialty retailer of lingerie.
As the largest segment of publicly traded, Limited Brands with generated sales of over $5 Billion.
Limited Brands Four Core Principles
1. The Customer Rules - Anticipate and fulfill their customers’ desires.
2. Passion Leads to Success – Strive for Excellence
3. Inclusion makes us stronger - Embracing others thoughts, experiences, hopes and dreams.
4. It matters how we play the game - Limited Brands supports community programs that focus on empowering women, nurturing children and improving education.
Suppliers must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and industry standards.

"What we stand for," - partners to operate ethically and merchandise to be produced under appropriate conditions.

Suppliers must meet their standards ( dignity, respect and opportunity, safe and healthy working conditions)

Hire workers of legal age, who accept employment on a voluntary basis and maintain reasonable working hours.
Relationships Policy
Nature of the crisis
December 15th 2011 Bloomberg published a revealing article accusing Victoria Secret of child labor exploitation.

Accusation based on 13 year old child, Clarisse Kambire forced to pick cotton in Burkino Faso.

Victoria's Secret purchase cotton from Burkino Faso's organic and fair trade program.

DEC. 15, 2011: Bloomberg News exposes Victoria’s Secret’s alleged use of forced child labor in undergarments labeled “fair trade".
DEC. 22, 2011: Rob Cameron, CEO of Fairtrade International, resigns, but a spokeswoman says his departure is unrelated to the article.
JAN. 3, 2012: Fairtrade International refutes Bloomberg News’ allegations, claiming that “substantial contradictions” were uncovered in its investigation.
JAN. 13, 2012: Homeland Security investigators launch preliminary inquiry.
Bloomberg had all guns blazing.
Emotional appeal is an understatement.
The video documentary by reporter Cam Simpson
shows compelling footage of 13 year old
Clarisse Kambire at work in a cotton farm.
Victoria’s Other Secret Video

Bloomberg’s Cam Simpson press interview
Parent company of Victoria’s Secret, Limited Brands, were “shocked” by the allegations stating they did not know.

“They describe behaviour contrary to our company’s values and the code of labor and sourcing standards we require all of our suppliers to meet,” - Tammy Robert Myers (Vice President of Communications)

“We are vigorously engaging with stakeholders to fully investigate this matter.”

"This report disputes the Fair trade certification that Victoria’s Secret relies on, and it questions the oversight and training of the program by the National Federation of Cotton Producers of Burkina Faso (UNPCB)."

Limited Brands did not conduct a press release but released a statement on their website in order to not draw attention.
How did they respond?
Communication Style

Victoria's Secret used a ‘Politicking’ form of communication emphasising on what the company should do opposed to what they are doing.

Incorporating Persuasive tactics

Passive facilitative – Victoria's Secret kept very quiet about the problem and didn’t want to create attention through a mass media response and waited for investigations to take place.

Passive Inhibiting – Information was withheld from Victorias Secret and possibly vice verca and this problem arose because they were not paying attention, being submissive and possibly ignoring the facts that came to light by Bloomberg.
Style of Communication
Communication Evaluation
Politicking tactic - not knowing , placing the blame on others, "shocked by these allegations."

Influencing strategy - immediate investigation was an that would not affect any of their stakeholders and worked in their favor.

Limited Brands communicated their vision to the relevant stakeholders
-website response
-implement change
- eradicate unethical child labor
- increase fairtrade organic cotton farmers
- commitment to improve the lives of women
& children in Burkina Faso.
- communicate goals & how they will be achieved.
•Understand your organisation’s policy on ethics - What leaders perceive as ethical behaviour and what they expect employees to understand and do. (“What We Stand For” policy?)

•Anticipate unethical conflict- Be alert of situations that may promote unethical behaviour

•Think before you act- Were they aware of the situation in Burkina Farso?

• Consider all consequences- Information on the media, jobs can be lost and company sued

•Seek opinion from others- Company’s lawyers and the department responsible for their Rules and Regulations

•Do what you truly believe is right- Be true with our own ethical standards. Be conscious and responsible for this behaviour
Ethical Guidepost to Decisions
Principles for Ethical Decision Making
• Transparency- Be honest with your actions

• Dignity- Respect the dignity of others

• Fairness- Respect the right of other

• Citizenship- Act as a responsible member of the community

• Responsiveness- Be responsible to legitimate concerns of others

Crises are unexpected, unwanted, unpleasant and rare which is why organisations don’t like to plan for them. (Harrison, pp. 810)
But creating a crisis management plan is the most crucial recommendation we propose.
It provides an “insurance policy” so to speak, whereby organisations can put into action, predetermined “damage control” measures.

They Could have/Should have also implemented the following:

-Create a fundraising campaign to gain awareness and support for child labour in Africa and possibly hold a Victoria Secret fashion show where all proceeds will go to disadvantaged children in Africa.
-VS could hold a press conference about the action plan they are taking and how the problem will be resolved and monitored in accordance with their brand values.
-Most importantly a plan should be in place, as it allows for a prompt response to a crisis, suggests immediate steps to control the message and successfully regain the public's trust.
What do you think of Victoria Secret now?
Nature of Communications during the crisis
It all started with a compelling Video profiling 13 year old Clarisse.
Several Media Outlets were quick to distribute the shocking story!
What do you now think of Victoria's Secret?
Nowadays Victoria's Secret is one of the top ten well known lingerie brands and leading specialty retailer of lingerie.

It's the largest segment of publicly traded, Limited Brands with generated sales of over $5 Billion.

Over 1000 stores worldwide
CEO of Limited Brands & Victoria's Secret - Leslie H. Wexner
President of Victoria's Secret Direct - Sharen Turney
Limited Brands - employs more than 90,000 associates
Approximately 46,000 shareholders
Independent Public Accountant- Ernst & Young LLP
Limited Brands supply chain Group- Mast Global, responsible for the Logistics, Development, Production and Sourcing
National Federation of cotton producers of Burkina Faso (UNPBC)
Fair Trade Organisation
Class Activity
Thank you!

1. Background & Stakeholders
2. Nature of the Crisis
3. Impact and Media Coverage
4. Communication response
5. Ethics & Corporate responsibility
6. Class Activity
7. Recommendations
Presented By:



1: Get into groups of 3-4
2: You will be given two pictures of children
in different contexts
3: As a group, you must decide whether each
picture is acceptable or unacceptable
4: Designate one member from your group
to place the picture above or below the 'symbolic'
line on the floor
5. Any questions about what you have to do?
Where do we draw the line?
Ethics Alarms
my day
Let's see if you can guess what the crisis was
after watching this short clip...
Corporate Social Responsibility
1. Attack the accuser
2. Denial – there is no crisis
3. Scapegoat – blame a 3rd party
4. Excuse – deny attempt to harm and claim inability to control
5. Provocation – claim result of someone else’s actions
6. Defeasibility – claim lack of information
7. Accidental – claim no control over events
8. Good intentions – assert org meant to do well
9. Justification – minimised perceived damage
10. Reminder – tell people of past good works
11. Ingratiation – praise stakeholders for their actions
12. Compensation – offer money or gifts to victims
13. Apology – indicate taking of full responsibility and ask for forgiveness
Which of the following crisis response methods
do you think Victoria's Secret employed?
Talk about emotional appeal!
Headlines- Impact
"I don't blame victoria's secret
because they thought they
were doing the right thing"
Full transcript