Gender Issues in the Supply Chain
At its heart, industrial relations is about the exercise and balancing of power in production. Nowhere is this more evident than when considering the situation of women workers.
While all workers around the globe face common issues in the workplace, for women these are often compounded by compounded by bullying, intimidation, discrimination, sexual harassment and violence, and issues relating to health, maternity and childcare.
A report released in 2016 by Sisters For Change and Munnade (India) found that 1 in 7 women workers in garment factories in Bangalore had been forced either to commit a sexual act or to have sexual intercourse and 1 in 14 has experienced physical violence in the workplace. 80% of the workers surveyed reported that their health and safety was at risk because of working conditions and 1 in 4 feel unsafe at work. In 90% of cases, the perpetrators are male supervisors or Floor-in-Charge managers.
Report after report shows a high incidence of sexual harassment in supply chains. But social audit reports typically don’t record it as a problem.
Where there is legislation, we can help with compliance. But we can go beyond that, with innovative training that changes behaviour.
Just Solutions has a standing cooperation with the international social organisation, Women Working Worldwide, to gender-proof our own programmes and to help us to provide cutting-edge consultancy advice and training to assist employers in ensuring that their workplaces are female-friendly.
One aspect of our broad programme of training focuses on managers in order to create a better understanding of the issues facing their female employees. We give support to carry awareness into policies and practice to make workplaces safe for women.
Training for women workers and their representatives on specialist committees can help develop the confidence and skills required to challenge everyday sexism. Raising awareness among all members of the workforce – female or male – is an essential component of changing workplace culture. We therefore train supervisors and managers in gender-appropriate behaviours for day-to-day management of the shopfloor. We have also trained women elected to Works Councils in garment factories in Bangladesh, Mauritius, Pakistan, Vietnam, China and Indonesia.
Here are some relevant blogs by our Director of Projects and Training, Stirling Smith: