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H&M recently announced an interesting new step in the progress of their H&M Conscious Foundation. In October 2013 the brand invited their customers to take part in their ethical fashion initiative. Through a global online voting process, they invited their consumers to choose which three global development issues the H&M Conscious Foundation should support. This resulted in the following through issues receiving the most votes: Education, Clean Water and Empowering Women.

As per their recent communication, the foundation intends on partnering with “three renowned organizations and donating a total of over 30 million dollars to three global programmes, helping to make a real difference to people and communities all over the world.”

While we have always maintained a healthy skepticism in regards to the reality behind H&M’s ethical fashion initiatives, we are happy to see that empowering women is one of the three topics chosen by North American consumers.

Through what we do at Shopanthropic, one of our key goals is to empower female artisans in the communities we operate in to develop better futures for themselves, their families and their communities. While the work we do is grass roots, it has become very evident to us that one of the keys to helping communities break free of social taboo and the poverty cycle is through empowering women.

With a vote like this resulting in the public saying they want more work being done around the empowerment of women. That means that the work that the ethical fashion movement has begun to do around the world is clearly having positive effects on consumers. People are beginning to understand the need to help women create sustainable lives for themselves and that can only be a good thing for the grassroots work we are doing.

That being said, as consumers in the fashion market and members of ethical fashion movement, we must keep pushing large companies such as H&M to follow through with the broad goals they set, ensure they are using money to achieve the most value for the causes they endorse, and ensure that the changes they are trying to make are sustainable and positive.

So is this cool? Definitely. Will it work? We hope.