In a must read, three-part series on the effectiveness of auditing and private regulation, the team behind Cornell's New Conversation Project argues that audits and their resulting corrective action plans have been largely ineffective.
The research, which spanned 40,000 factory labor audits over time in 12 countries and 12 industries, shows " the average number of violations found in labor audits was almost unchanged between 2011 and 2018 across all countries and industries."
At Labor Solutions, we think its critical to engage suppliers and workers, rather than police and penalize. Time and time again, we enter into facilities where management bare scars from audits gone bad, overbearing clients and costly slip ups or misunderstanding. "Our biggest challenge when implementing within a factory, is convincing everyone in the value chain that transparency is good and will reap benefits for all," notes Bijie LI, Head of Client Advisory Service. "Receiving a grievance should be perceived as good. Only in a workplace of trust are grievances brought forward. People, particularly those who are vulnerable, don't complain if they don't believe their feedback will go unnoticed and not create change. We want to hear from workers it's a good thing! But this is a hard mindset to change. Management at every level have spent the last few decades in fear, and as a result have suppressed complaints and worker feedback."
Rewarding the Middle: Rewarding Compliance in the Supply Chain