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Embracing a Worker-Centric Approach to Human Rights Due Diligence

As new legislation like, CSDDD comes into effect, global companies work to implement new and upcoming human rights due diligence policies and practices, it is essential to place workers at the centre. The intent of the laws is to protect workers and what better way to protect workers than engaging workers.  A Worker-Centric Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) approachplaces the well-being of workers at the forefront of supply chain management. 

Supporting Suppliers, Protecting Workers  

The Worker-Centric HRDD approach represents a paradigm shift in how we conceptualize and implement corporate responsibility within supply chains. At its core, this approach empowers suppliers to take ownership of human resources practices and processes within their own facilities, and prioritizing the rights and well-being of workers. 

The scale of the challenge is huge. Without engaging suppliers in the solutions, global companies will be unable to meet the expectations of the new laws.  

Key Components 

1. Worker-Centric Focus 

The cornerstone of this framework is its commitment to listen to the needs and voices of workers. By prioritizing the rights and dignity of workers, companies and suppliers can create a culture of respect and empowerment throughout the supply chain. 

The Worker- Centric approaches requires engaging workers throughout the entire process.  This starts with educating workers on their rights and extends to engaging unions and worker representatives in the remediation of grievances. This approach requires companies think about workers needs and perspective first.   

2. Supplier Engagement  

Unlike traditional top-down approaches to corporate responsibility, this framework requires supplier engagement. It focuses on competencies, rather than issues. This fosters accountability and encourages proactive engagement in addressing human rights issues. Trust is key for both workers and suppliers to be successful. If suppliers think worker feedback will be used against them, they will supress worker voices—making workplaces unsafe. Its key that suppliers are trusted and that trust is passed down to workers.  

Every supplier will begin in a different place. This multilevel framework operates as a guide for suppliers to elevate their operations through strategic planning, implementation, and empowering engagement. It focuses suppliers on building competencies and systems with the hope of building trust that cascades throughout the workplace and supply chain. The goal is to ensure suppliers are constantly engaging workers, seeking feedback and acting on that feedback.  

3. Collaboration and Transparency 

Central to the success of this approach is collaboration and transparency among all stakeholders. By fostering open communication and sharing best practices, companies can collectively work towards more ethical and sustainable ecosystem. Brands should track suppliers’ progress and ensure open dialogue is active and ongoing. When workers stop trusting their employer, brands should be concerned and intervene.  

4. Continuous Improvement 

The journey towards a truly ethical supply chain is never-ending.  The Worker-Centric HRDD approach emphasizes the importance of continuous improvement, encouraging companies and suppliers to regularly assess and refine their practices to better protect workers' rights. 

The Worker-Centric HRDD approach offers a forward-thinking solution to the complex challenges facing modern businesses. By prioritizing the rights and well-being of workers and fostering collaboration among all stakeholders, companies can build more resilient, ethical, and sustainable supply chains for the future. Embracing this framework is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic imperative for businesses seeking to thrive in a rapidly evolving global landscape. 

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