Arlington, V.A., November 29, 2011 – WRAP CEO Steve Jesseph announced today he will retire at the end the year. “I’m very proud of the team we have at WRAP and the progress we’ve made working with factory owners, industry and governments to improve the lives of factory workers around the world. We still have a long way to go, but we can definitely see progress and we’re continuing to grow” said Jesseph. “Fifteen years ago, WRAP was a vision; today, it is reality. We’ve certified more than 6,000 facilities in over 70 countries, opened regional offices in Hong Kong and Dhaka, and developed a range of training programs that are viewed as best-in-class by brands and retailers.”
From 1996 to 2000, Jesseph chaired a multi-stakeholder task force to study the working conditions in apparel and footwear factories around the world. Established as a non-profit organization, WRAP is self-funded and does not receive government or foundation grants, or membership dues. “We decided that as a voluntary standard, WRAP had to provide value to the participating factories, and be sufficiently rigorous for brands and retailers to accept our certification to meet their compliance needs. Financially, it had to stand on its own. Given our acceptance by 25 trade associations, governments, brands, retailers and more, I think we met our goal of creating a global compliance brand.”
Mary Howell, former vice president and now special advisor to the American Apparel and Footwear Association worked with Jesseph as a staff liaison from the first task force meeting in late 1996. “Without the foresight, determination and dedication of Steve Jesseph, I am not sure WRAP would be the viable organization it is today. I would say that WRAP has been nothing but a labor of love for Steve and a testament to his core beliefs” said Howell.
“We’ve been fortunate to have the support from global industry leaders such as Jockey, VF Corporation, Hanes, Children’s Place, Sears, Carhartt, Cintas, Anvil Knitwear, Dole and others in the U.S., plus Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Zara, Itochu and other leading organizations from around the world” added Jesseph. “Early on, a number of people were skeptical that we could get global brands and retailers to agree upon one common standard, but they have embraced WRAP as that standard, and that support has fueled our growth. Today, WRAP is on very solid financial ground, has no debt, and will continue adding staff and offices around the world where our training and certification programs are in demand. For all we’ve accomplished, I have to give credit to our great staff. We wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
Gil Llanes, President of ICG, observed that “Steve grew WRAP's registration volume four-fold in six years and, in the process, he built a world class organization with representatives in the major apparel producing countries in the world. Steve is a leader and a visionary, and I for one will miss his leadership.”
Asked about his plans for the future, Jesseph replied, “I’m retiring from WRAP but not from work. I enjoy what I do—building teams, solving complex challenges, working in more than 60 countries, and helping to make the world a better place for future generations. I’ve been asked to consider several opportunities, and to do some consulting work. I can’t do that now as it would be a conflict of interest. I’m looking forward to the next chapter in life.”