01 Dec 2014
Instilling Production with Principles
Marjorie Yang (MBA 1976), Chairman, Esquel GroupRe: James Reinhart (MBA 2009); Christopher Homer (MBA 2009); Soufi Esmaeilzadeh (MBA 2010)by April WhiteTopics:
The Esquel Group has reduced water consumption at its factories by more than 50 percent in the last nine years.
Asia–based Esquel Group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-end cotton shirts, producing about 100 million shirts a year for brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. But chairman Marjorie Yang doesn’t spend much time talking about apparel anymore. Instead, she’s talking about the importance of improving the livelihood of workers (which reduces turnover) and reducing water and electricity use throughout the supply chain. Pro-worker and pro-environmental policies are money savers and the key to her company’s continued success, Yang says.
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Yang took a leadership role at Esquel Group, which her father founded, in 1995. The company has grown steadily despite the economic downturn, and today Esquel Group has 59,000 employees worldwide, growing, ginning, spinning, dyeing, knitting, and weaving cotton and manufacturing garments and accessories. Every step is governed by Yang’s E-Culture—ethics, environment, exploration, excellence, and education—which has earned the company the accolades of its clients and watchdog groups. Now she wants the attention of her competitors in an industry often known for low wages and dismal environmental records. “We can be a catalyst of change,” says Yang, who is planning sustainability conferences and factory tours to share her company’s successful strategies.
“We’re not going to just count our own commercial success. We’re going to count how much impact we have on changing the behavior of the whole industry,” she says. “We’re going to create some noise.”
Next: Áslaug Magnúsdóttir (MBA 2000) — Customizing Couture Online »
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To learn more about these seven HBS Alumni trendsetters, click on their photos below:
Class of MBA 1976, Section H