The human supply chain: How slavefreetrade is putting the ‘S’ back in ESG
Prioritising real-time worker feedback brings the human supply chain into focus.
Traditional employee surveys in modern workplaces are outdated. More recent approaches to measuring worker conditions in worksites and supply chains in real-time are starting to appear. Why? Partly because of the benefits of real-time feedback, and the deficiencies in periodic reporting and audit.
There is a new focus for supply chain management due to abuses we have heard about and seen. The human supply chain is finally the one in focus. For decades, attention has been on products; colours, numbers, characteristics, sizes, flavours. But never, never about the humans involved in their making.
“Shining a light on workplace conditions is the only way to see what is going on.”
In our decades of modern slavery work, we have found that slavery, like all illegitimate acts, tends to flourish in darkness. Shining a light on workplace conditions, traditionally done through certification and audit models, is the only way to see what’s going on.
But switching that light on only once a year or every couple of years, however, does not represent the best chance of warding off the risk of modern slavery.
Measuring Human Conditions in the Workplace
Businesses, no matter where they are in a supply chain, measure sales and financial metrics daily, or at least weekly or monthly. Why would you not, or at least not want to, do the same for the humans in the workplace? It’s our view that if everyone is pulling in the same direction, together, we are all far better off. And, in business, so is your bottom line.
We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in understanding working conditions; we’re at the forefront of this development. This new paradigm features real-time feedback, continuous engagement, contextual and nuanced questions, immediate analysis and assessment, hooks into quick triage and remediation mechanisms, and direct impact feedback.
“We are on the cusp of a paradigm shift in understanding working conditions.”
Real-time, continuous worker feedback is both desirable and possible with modern technology. And it’s a hallmark of our work – with a hybrid of conventional and private blockchain tech – to make it happen in supply chains and worksites across the globe.
So, why is it important? What are the benefits of real-time versus periodic? Continuous, versus sporadic?
How does this supposed new paradigm help you? In the following ways.
Resolve Issues Before They Escalate
With the ongoing pulse check that we can bring, you can find out about problems when they occur, not 3, 12, or even 24 months later. Keep that light burning in your workplaces continuously, and your workplaces will be impervious to modern slavery.
Programmed reporting periods are problematic when looking to spot and remedy modern slavery. With ongoing reporting and continuous monitoring, it’s not always going to be perfect. But certainly better as a method for eliminating fraud from the results, improving the integrity of the data coming from any workplace, and making sure the standards are being adhered to on an ongoing basis, not just at specific points in time.
Let’s face it, monitoring workplace conditions is complex in big organisations, spread over continents. It takes all hands on deck. The human factor in managing processes and workplaces alone can mean conditions are let go or are not good enough at the start. It’s essential to catch below-standard conditions before they blow up, and sales and profits plummet.
Questions Grounded in SDGs
We’re spending hours designing the questions for worker feedback and engagement that make all the difference. Our 400 questions come from the 10 principles of our verification framework. The process involves translating objective international law and human rights principles into subject and contextual questions. Our principles, in turn, are grounded in international human rights law and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
And we built the hybrid tech solution I mentioned above, to take our questions to employees in a way that makes them feel safe, trusted, engaged, and hopeful.
Targeted Questions – Ongoing Feedback
The prospect of ongoing feedback helps us ask better but fewer questions compared to traditional models. Simple questions help us improve connections and build trust. Because we sample frequently, we don’t need to ask every worker every question in our set. The familiar cadence helps us improve connections and build trust between employees and their employer; one of the problematic trust relationships that break where modern slavery flourishes.
Analysis is Key to Finding Solutions
It’s essential to dig deeper than the mere answers that you receive. Serious analytics are needed. A lot can be happening under the covers that we can’t see without the deeper understanding that comes from the analysis. We map the feedback from questions for trust levels, for coercion, for congruence, and anomalies. And we have aspirations – once we find the resources – for our tech hybrid to include machine learning that helps narrows in on issues and make even better questions.
Importantly, we know that asking our questions, which is the simple act of demonstrating that we are listening, is essential to increase employee trust and engagement. Over time, that improves our data set because confidence grows.
Meaningful Conversations Promote Employee Trust
Just like an annual employee performance review doesn’t give you a clear picture of an employee’s actual work, so it is for workplace conditions. A conversation that takes place between employer and employee at a periodic interval, whatever that interval might be, does not allow for gauging real situations and real engagement.
Knowing how conditions are all the time, from the mouths of the workers themselves, opens up the possibility for more real and more meaningful conversations between employers and employees. This transparency promotes trust, which comes back around to reinforce the quality of the answers to the questions asked.
As a business owner, working on our platform, you’ll enjoy conversations that focus on a real-time approach to workplace conditions and worker health.
Share Insights to Boost Productivity
Analytics that reports on your real-time workplace conditions globally, at a glance, help you drive your business forward. Getting workplaces across your company and your supply chain lined up on worker’s rights and conditions require a common standard; it requires sharing insights and initiatives. That demands global monitoring with consistency.
“A great workplace is everyone’s job.”
This builds trust with your employees, makes staff feel valued by sharing insights, and acts on those insights in direct response to feedback. It also involves your employees driving positive change; a great workplace is everyone’s job.
No More Isolated Snapshots
Traditional methods of assessing workplace conditions across large workplaces and locations provide a snapshot of one given moment in time. Using this snapshot as a foundation for knowing and acting is like changing fundamental aspects of your life based on a Polaroid.
And when employees get asked about workplace habits on that random and sporadic basis, will they indeed be honest? Will they feel anonymous? Is there enough trust that there is a point to the exercise?
Moreover, the snapshot is often delivered months after the questions asked in the field. Once workers complete the audit of their conditions, more time passes until the auditors. Then the higher-ups examine the results, and another month to come up with priorities and hopefully, an action plan at some stage. This is late. And slow.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A video of your life is a better foundation for making changes than a Polaroid is. Ongoing understanding and immediate analysis will only serve to bring home benefits faster to your business ambitions.
Know When you Need to Take Action
Thanks to our elaborate monitoring mechanism, you’re notified in real-time when something triggers a positive or negative response among your coworkers. You can take action straight away; no recriminations for moving too slowly to identify and remedy serious issues.
We don’t leave you on your own to fix things when they come up. We have a professional panel of experts ready to help with anything that might come up on alert. Then all you need is the will to face the challenges and the joy to celebrate your wins with the resulting flow-on to your business health.
With what we can provide for real-time and ongoing feedback, you can easily measure the impact at any moment. It is life. And the numbers are right in front of you on your dashboard.
With real-time feedback, we help you increase the chances of quickly changing course if conditions change for the worse. Workplace change and worker engagement improve in your day-to-day, assisting both employers and employees in taking responsibility for the condition or trend, and in being responsible for collaborating for making positive change happen.
The Human Bottomline Impacts your Financial Bottomline
Better workplace conditions, and higher employee trust in their employer, translates directly to higher workplace productivity, which has a direct correlation with your bottom line. The human bottom line impacts your financial bottom line directly; it is mad not to look after that and measure it like you do your financials.
Know if your Initiatives are Working
While we work with you to fix conditions, in any other context you would not know, or not for some time, if anything you do has made an impact.
With slavefreetrade, with continuous monitoring, you’re ‘checking up’ on applied remedies to find out if they work, and whether your actions are giving you a return on your investment. Have conditions demonstrably improved, and has that improved productivity?
As a rule, we support the repeating of things that have a positive effect and get you going in the right direction — and dumping measures that don’t work in a demonstrated way.
Seeing positive change occur in your workplace or on your dashboard, in the wake of implementing a remedy, is like seeing where you’re going in real-time on your navigation system. It is the surest way we can think of to get you where you want to go. Why would you want to do anything else?
To find out how we can use our worker feedback to keep you and your supply chain free of modern slavery, please drop us a line.