Gaining insight into impact is in many ways the next frontier in supply chain accountability. Companies working to promote responsible practices need ways to track the effects their programs are having, both to determine whether problems are in fact being solved (and resources well spent), and to identify ways to improve existing programming. With demands for more and better transparency from companies on their supply chain efforts, the need to demonstrate authentic impact grows. Evaluation of social impact can be difficult to do well, however, particularly where programs are multi-dimensional and ongoing, and attribution of observed changes to particular interventions is not straightforward.
Many company’s forced labor, human trafficking, or ‘modern day slavery’ disclosures – whether mandated by transparency regulations or part of broader sustainability, corporate social responsibility, or human rights reporting – do not reflect a credible understanding of how specific practices of value chain partners and recruitment intermediaries in their supply chains expose vulnerable workers to the risk of forced labor. Consequently, many of the detection and prevention efforts outlined in these disclosures are not sufficiently targeted to effectively address the root causes of these insidious and deeply entrenched abuses.
Ensuring the health, safety, and human rights of workers in any sector is a complex feat and one that requires continuous improvement. For large-scale construction and infrastructure projects, this task is further complicated by the sheer number of workers and employers – contractors and subcontractors – at the same job site. An effective grievance mechanism can increase the knowledge of and improve the living and working conditions for workers at these job sites. Verité implemented such a grievance mechanism over a three-year period at a major construction project in China.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) released an update if its annual child labor report, Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, which includes research on child labor in 135 countries and is accompanied by the release of the updated Sweat & Toil mobile app. In addition, ILAB launched a new toolkit and mobile app, Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains to help companies to address forced and child labor in their supply chains.
Over the summer, Verité welcomed 11 interns to work on projects across the Research, Assessments, and Business Development departments. Interns make meaningful contributions to our organization. Among the many projects summer interns worked on, they conducted research for and supported the publication of, Risk Analysis of Labor Violations Among Farmworkers in the Guatemalan Sugar Sector and Verité’s Forced Labor Commodity Atlas.