On Tuesday, scrappy self-made entrepreneur Ivanka Trump will head to India, where she will be the keynote speaker in the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit talking about—what else?—empowering women. During the three-day trip, the Washington Post reports that she will discuss “the administration’s commitment to the principle that when women are economically empowered, their communities and countries thrive.”
Her visit is, like most public appearances by Trump officials, steeped in silent hypocrisy, as Trump’s clothing brand relies on garment workers from developing countries (including India) who often work in harsh and abusive conditions. An AP report from June highlighted abuse at a factory in China that makes Ivanka Trump brand shoes, where one supervisor attacked a male employee with a high-heeled shoe. The Post, which reported on the Trump brand’s treatment of workers in July, was unable to determine the conditions of factories in India that create Trump garments. However, according to The Garment Labor Union in Bangalore, garment workers earn between $4.60 to $4.70 per day and “are often crammed into noisy factories without air conditioning—unbearable in India’s summer heat, when temperatures soar to 120 degrees” and few breaks for water.
The Post recently followed up with the company’s president, Abigail Klem, to see if conditions among workers have improved:
At the time, executives told The Post that the brand had started looking into hiring a nonprofit workers’ rights group to increase oversight and help improve factory conditions. Brand president Abigail Klem said she was planning her first trip to tour facilities that make Ivanka Trump products.
“We recognize that our brand name carries a special responsibility,” she said.
But four months later, it is unclear if the company pursued any of those steps. Asked about the status of Klem’s trip or the hiring of a workers’ rights group, the company declined to comment.
Earlier this month, a group of non-profit organizations that include the Child Labor Coalition and the International Labor Rights Forum, wrote Trump a letter asking Trump to increase transparency around her brand’s garment factories. “Even though you have removed yourself from the brand’s day to day operation, you can still make it clear that all apparel and footwear companies have a moral obligation to improve their sourcing practices,” the letter reads.
Upon accepting a position with the Trump administration, Ivanka announced in January that she would no longer oversee the day-to-day operations of her brand. But rather “has been advised that she cannot ask the government to act in an issue involving the brand in any way, constraining her ability to intervene personally.” But, as the letter points out, “Nevertheless, you hold a powerful position in the White House, while also profiting from your clothing lines and the increased prominence of your personal brand. Thus, you have a responsibility to use your position to raise standards for workers.”