How One Factory Worked with Labor Solutions to Improve the Safety and Security of Female Workers

Read in Español, Việt Nam, 中文


Read how one factory conducted a worker survey, discovered female workers were concerned about their safety and then worked with Labor Solutions to improve the protection of workers and reduce sexual harassment on their site. When the factory conducted the same survey again 6 months later, they found workers reported feeling safer and safety concerns had decreased by 45%.


Background:

The Nike Engagement and Wellbeing (EWB) worker survey is increasingly used by brands and suppliers to better understand workers’ experience and identify issues to focus attention and resources. The survey allows brands and factories to easily identify strengths and improvement opportunities, by providing scores for each question and indicator. Indicators include topics such as Skill Building, Recruitment, Harassment, Social Connection, Communication, Stress and more.


Worker surveys have proven to be successful tools to better understand worker needs, but often Labor Solutions finds interpreting data and following up to be more challenging for management teams. Understanding worker needs is important but acting on feedback and making improvements is key to increased engagement and safety.


To support management teams to using surveys to drive change, in addition to preparing and deploying the survey, Labor Solutions now provides advisory services to help factories understand the results, identify next steps and create and implement Corrective Action Plans (CAP).


This case study examines how a factory from China, with support from a Labor Solutions Client Advisor, acted on survey results and responded to workers’ feedback regarding sexual harassment.


The factory conducted the EWB worker survey and found 60% of survey participants were concerned about Sexual Harassment at workplace, and among them 80% had not spoken about their concerns with anyone. Management, having never heard these types of complaints before, was shocked by the results and eager to find out more. But they struggled to figure out how to get started, so they decided to engage the client advisory team at Labor Solutions.


Solution:

The training also provides a structure for management teams to better understand root causes of results. It requires management to consider multiple aspects of the issue, such as existing (or non-existing) policies and procedures, ability to action policies and procedures (was someone assigned to manage the process) and the existence and availability of trainings for management and worker on the target issue. This leads to an internal review process. Labor Solutions Client Advisors helped management quickly distill key information from a number of data points and identify areas that required a deeper dive. Sexual Harassment was identified as an improvement area.


The training also provides a structure for management teams to better understand root causes of results. It requires management to consider multiple aspects of the issue, such as existing (or non-existing) policies and procedures, ability to action policies and procedures (was someone assigned to manage the process) and the existence and availability of trainings for management and worker on the target issue. This leads to an internal review process. Sometimes, when the root causes are unclear, Labor Solutions advisors, encourage factories to also conduct Focus Group Discussions (FGD) to get more detailed information from workers.


Based on Labor Solutions’ guidance, this factory conducted an internal review process and invited Labor Solutions to organize FGDs to gather more workers’ feedback.


The factory was not lacking comprehensive sexual harassment policies or a person in charge. Still, the process was not working, workers felt unsafe but choose not to report it through the normal processes. The FGD uncovered that female workers were being verbally harassed by a group outside the factory on their way back to the dormitory next to the factory compound. Despite feeling unsafe, workers were hesitant to speak up to management because they lacked an anonymous feedback tool (until the survey) and they felt the topic was embarrassing and sensitivity of the topic.


It was clear that the factory needed to help protect the women by addressing their safety during their commute and provide tools for workers to report issues anonymously and immediately, rather than waiting for an annual survey. Using the action plan template provided by Labor Solutions, the factory set up a short-term and a long-term plan to tackle the issue, which included action items, responsible personnel and how they plan to monitor the progress. Short-term plan includes providing transport for workers back to the dorm, avoiding arranging night shifts for female workers and working with local authority to provide additional surveillance around the area. The long-term plan is to provide training on sexual harassment awareness to workers and set up an anonymous grievance channel. The factory quickly put the plan into implementation and used the template to track monitoring results to hold the personnel accountable.


Results:

When the factory conducted the same survey again 6 months later, they found workers reported feeling safer and safety concerns had decreased by 45%.


The percentage of workers reporting sexual harassment and safety concerns had reduced by 45% to 15%. A majority of workers now stated that they directly report any issues immediately though the anonymous grievance line.


While, clearly management wants all workers to always feel safe, they are proud of these results and continue to endeavor to make sure abuse is not an issue faced by their workers in or outside their facility.