At Labor Solutions we believe that aligning diverse stakeholders interests is a cornerstone in constructing responsible and socially sustainable supply chains. This involves understanding and harmonizing the diverse objectives and interests of buyers, suppliers, workers, and even the wider community of consumers. It is a delicate balancing act, requiring strategic planning, proper mechanisms, and systems to openly communicate and work together.
Suppliers, workers, and buyers often have different perspectives and priorities, which leads to conflicting goals and objectives. Moreover, there is usually a different level of access to information (e.g. supply chain regulations) between different parties, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations. Certainly, there are also power imbalances between these different parties, sometimes making it difficult to find a solution and negotiate on an equal footing.
Labor Solutions aims to align these distinct needs through different mechanisms WOVO, our flagship application, and advisory service.
Empowering Suppliers with Tools + Support to Build Socially Responsible Business
Suppliers are the nexus of the supply chain, connecting the workers and buyers. That’s why our distinct approach in developing a socially responsible chain is to empower them with necessary tools + support, rather than policing them. WOVO is a platform made for suppliers to engage, connect, and educate workers at scale.
WOVO is designed to put suppliers at the center of the solution to social sustainability. Allowing them to take control of survey deployment, workers’ education, and grievance management. Suppliers can add additional questions to the surveys developed by the brands to reflect the local contexts better; allowing every stakeholder to have a better understanding of the situation. Suppliers can also add customized lessons to onboard and train their workers more efficiently and effectively compared to traditional methods. Moreover, the grievance management system is in the hands of the suppliers; allowing them to manage, collaborate with internal teams or external stakeholders, and get a better understanding of their workplace conditions.
WOVO for suppliers goes beyond compliance and grievances, it is also a platform connecting facility management with workers. The management can communicate key information to the workers directly from WOVO such as event announcements, information sharing, newsletters, pay slips, or messaging with individual workers. Essentially, it is also a human resource engagement tool.
For example, in early 2023, an apparel manufacturer in Indonesia has been seeing a spike in worker accident rate. In the coming month, they used WOVO’s newsletter function to communicate the rise in accidents and provide information on how they can prevent and avoid accidents. This led to an 80% decrease in the number of accidents in the following month.
For Suppliers: WOVO is a platform that manages human resources, employee engagement, local risks + issues to enhance their production.
Improving Worker Lives through Accessible Mobile Application
Workers are the reason we started Labor Solutions (almost) a decade ago and “Improving Workers Lives” is our vision. WOVO provides workers with multi-access points to get information, learn, and provide feedback on their workplace conditions.
WOVO’s primary touchpoint with workers is our mobile application, both available on Apple and Android. Via the application, workers can get the latest information from their management and about the workplace through information notifications, event reminders, and newsletters. Moreover, they can also get their pay slips through the application, secured with personal passwords.
Through the mobile application and other integrated access points such as QR code, web, and chat messengers such as WhatsApp or WeChat, workers can also answer the survey questions and provide feedback about their workplace. This process is made to be highly accessible to reach the maximum number of workers.
The questions can be incorporated with audiovisual elements such as emoticons and voice-overs to make the experience easier for workers with literacy issues.
Moreover, all the surveys the workers receive are ensured in their preferred language. To reduce the “survey fatigue”, we also provide standardized surveys such as Nike’s EWB and SLCP.
In a notable case study from a Chinese factory, 60% of the female workers were having concerns about workplace sexual harassment, with 80% never expressing their concerns. A periodical survey revealed this issue and the factory conducted Focus Group Discussions (FGD) for further understanding. These studies show harassment happening outside the factory premises during their commute to and from home. Armed with these insights, the factory took some initiatives such as providing transportation led to workers feeling more safe and secure (45% reduction in concerns) within six months.
Apart from the periodical surveys, workers can also anonymously provide feedback and report issues in their environment. WOVO allows workers to directly provide feedback to their management or third party about the grievances they are facing in their working lives while maintaining complete anonymity. This functionality not only empowers workers with more voices but also allows suppliers and brands to detect potential issues before they become a crisis.
WOVO is also a place for the workers to learn and grow. WOVO has lessons available in 26+ languages across different topics from understanding their rights and responsibilities on general human rights or specific issues and lessons around worker wellbeing and growth. The individual lessons are bite-sized and inclusive for all types of workers, accompanied by quizzes and interactive options to ensure progress.
For Workers: WOVO is an application to get updates, share feedback, report problems, and learn to improve their lives.
Providing Brands with Transparent Information to Minimize Risk in Their Value Chains
Buyers are central in making fundamental changes and long-term improvements to their value chains. To support brands in achieving it, WOVO provides an insightful dashboard and recommends long-term solutions to the social issues that they are facing in the value chains.
Buyers can easily design surveys with the help of our survey templates written by experts. These surveys are designed to capture workers’ reality and understand the underlying risks through experiential questions. (Find out more about experience vs. fact-based questions here). The surveys can be customized to reflect localized risks based on the geography or commodity. Furthermore, suppliers can augment with their own questions to help brands better understand the reality on the ground.
WOVO is also a platform to get insights + drive changes sustainably in their value chain. The dashboard provides brands with real-time + transparent aggregated data with direct input from workers. This data can be tracked across time and locations helping brands to identify issues and make proactive changes. To ensure a responsible supply chain, buyers are notified when their suppliers are underperforming in their own grievance management with workers.
If there is low utilization of the tool, long responses from the factory management, or low worker satisfaction brands can focus on these particular cases and investigate further. This approach not only gives brands assured oversight while allowing suppliers to have the autonomy to remediate their local issues – ultimately ensuring a sustainable mechanism that solves issues within the value chain collaboratively.
WOVO works beyond these three parties. A recent ILO study on union federations in partnership with Labor Solutions concluded that unions are facing challenges in managing grievance data and that digitization with tools like WOVO could help them overcome these challenges.
For Brands: WOVO is a dashboard to monitor social issues efficiently, understand impact + track trends to minimize risks in their value chains.
Overall, WOVO is an ecosystem of tools that can help to align the interests of different stakeholders in the supply chain. By providing suppliers with the tools and support they need to build socially responsible businesses, improving worker lives through an accessible mobile application, and providing brands with transparent information to minimize risk in their value chains, WOVO can help to create a more sustainable and equitable supply chain.