The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) recently hosted a Summit in Chicago, IL to provide a “space for supply chain innovation, team building, and sustainability break-throughs.” Krystal Bouverot, Labor Solutions’ new Director of Innovation, spoke on a panel at the Summit about reducing the risk of forced labor in supply chains.
With prior first-hand experience implementing mobile solutions to combat forced labor, she was able to share insights and ideas for “Improving Awareness of Rights and Working Conditions of (Migrant) Workers via Mobile Surveys, M-Learning, and Helplines.” In case you missed it, here are some of the highlights:
The Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity were established in 2012 by the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) to provide practical guidance for employers, labor brokers, and other stakeholders regarding migrant worker recruitment and treatment throughout their contract. While these principles are hard to enforce, mobile technology can help!
Mobile Surveys facilitate honest worker feedback via anonymity and no face-to-face interaction. They can be completed wherever workers feel safest (e.g., from home) via app, web link, IVR, or SMS. In the case of forced labor – because it is sensitive and workers often don’t know if they’re in a forced labor situation, mobile surveys allow you to ask workers questions that serve as forced labor indicators (proxies), then you can determine the degree of risk based on their responses.
Mobile Learning (M-Learning) can be as simple as pushing voice- or text-based messages to workers, or it can be a more involved and interactive (i.e., app-based) experience. Either way, you can use it to make sure workers know their rights and resources ahead of migrating, or you can use it if/when you find out that workers’ rights are being abused. In the latter case, it’s a great follow-on to mobile surveys.
Helplines allow workers to call or text their grievances or questions and someone – typically external to the worker’s employer – provides live support. When helplines are done well, there are 3 Ps in place: people (to engage with workers in a caring and helpful manner), protocols (to ensure that issues are handled appropriately and escalated through multiple stakeholders when needed), and promotion (to make workers are aware that the helpline exists). Worker trust is extremely important; hence, why helplines supported by NGOs or other trained personnel tend to be effective.
To sum up why these mobile tools are important for migrant – and really all – workers: they facilitate two-way communication with workers to both inform them of their rights and confirm that their working conditions are sound. This also has business benefits: when workers feel engaged and protected, companies see increased productivity and reduced turnover. Furthermore, companies can help avoid and manage worker-safety risks and pre-empt major (costly) problems by getting a pulse at the ground level.