Businesses around the world are taking a closer look at the "S" in ESG to further human rights due diligence in supply chains. Worker grievance is a key area of ESG that is measurable and effective, if done correctly, generating clear data and insights for companies to track improvements. Gildan, a leading apparel manufacturer, is using WOVO, a grievance mechanism app, to elevate worker voices and improve their lives. Labor Solutions interviewed the Director of Global Social Compliance at Gildan, German Reyes, about the company’s experience using WOVO and the role of leveraging technology to help elevate worker voices in complex supply chains. Read our conversation below:
Photo courtesy of Gildan
1. When and why did you start using WOVO?
We began using WOVO in 2021 after several employees expressed interest in submitting feedback directly on their smartphones. We then start to evaluate the idea of incorporating an additional grievance mechanism system; we looked into various options and one of our customers expressed the positive experience they had with Labor Solutions and recommended that we use it in our facilities. We rolled out and implemented the WOVO app in two of our facilities located in Honduras and Nicaragua.
2. What did you want to achieve by using employee voice tools like WOVO?
We were looking to further elevate the culture of open and safe communication channels with our workers. We already had processes in place for traditional grievance mechanisms, but we wanted to step it up and go digital. We also wanted to ensure that communication with our workers was efficient and that responses were provided in a timely manner. We knew that going digital could certainly help us with that.
3. What has changed for your business since you started using WOVO?
Since starting to use WOVO, Gildan has seen a number of positive changes. Employees now have a direct line of communication with management via digital communication channels, which has led to increased trust and engagement. Employees have been more motivated to ask questions as well as provide more suggestions and ideas. The company has also been able to better track and categorize grievances, which has helped them to identify and address recurring issues. Finally, we can better understand our employees’ needs and as a result, we have developed even closer relationships between management and workers.
4. How have you used WOVO to monitor and report on social sustainability + grievance matters internally?
Throughout the years, we have monitored the number of suggestions received through our suggestion boxes as well as through the rest of our grievance mechanisms. With WOVO we continue to monitor our grievances, but we are also able to quickly identify recurring trends that could positively be improved. These trends are communicated to our different internal teams so that together, with our workers and other stakeholders, we can identify the best solutions.
5. Can you share a particular experience or insight into how you used WOVO to collect workers’ feedback and make changes in your facilities?
At the end of last year, multiple suggestions were received from workers regarding the synchronization of the Electronic Time Record System and the digital clocks located on our production floor. The suggestions were sent to our IT Department who reviewed the problem and confirmed that when power outages occurred, the digital clocks were misconfigured, causing small discrepancies on time reported by workers. Thanks to their feedback our teams were able to quickly fix the issue. The case was successfully closed on the app and the employees were satisfied with our response.
6. In your opinion, what is the key to a successful WOVO implementation?
I’m a strong believer that getting everyone on the same page from the get-go is a great way to roll out a new initiative. Specifically, with WOVO, I think the key to a successful implementation is a strong onboarding that includes all levels of management in a facility from day 1. Here is a roll-out structure I believe could help:
Pre-Launch: conduct a series of activities and an awareness campaign to generate interest and curiosity amongst employees.
The Launch: Gather employees and explain to them how to install and use the app, as well as share the benefits of using the app.
Post-Launch: Maintaining employee trust within the app by providing prompt responses as well as effective solutions to their grievances. Also, keep employees engaged by asking them to complete surveys and continue rewarding those who submit their feedback and suggestions through the app.
Gildan is one of many companies that are using WOVO to ensure human rights due diligence processes are in place in their supply chains. The platform has helped Gildan to create a more open and transparent communication channel with their employees, and it has also helped them to identify and address recurring human rights issues. If you are looking for a way to kick-start your HRDD journey, Labor Solution is offering HRDD Starter Kit.