On 13 July, FTA held its second Thought Leadership Webinar of the year, entitled ‘Empowering Women: Why it Makes Good Business Sense’. Welcoming the interest of more than 200 participants, the discussion focused on the ongoing discrimination faced by women in supply chains and shed light on good industry practices demonstrating the benefits of female empowerment, particularly in the lower tiers of the supply chain.
The significance of the issue was raised by Alison Tate from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) who shared that “35% of women worldwide have experienced violence whether physical or sexual”. She highlighted that while 60% of global trade is based on contracts, an astonishing 94% of workers in the supply chain comprise a ‘hidden’ workforce leading to precarious working conditions. Providing practical tips, Lisa Suss from Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) explained that most line supervisors are male, overseeing a largely female-dominated workforce, particularly at factory level. This imbalance can contribute to a misalignment in the communication, understanding and relations between workforce and supervisor and in turn hinders business success.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Mohammed Zahidullah from DBL Group who shared some results from his work to empower women at the factory level. With 33 female supervisors, he has experienced a 2.98% increase in efficiency, drawing on the business case of good relations between the workforce and supervisors.
While good worker relations often lead to positive business results, with such a large volume of informally employed workers, unions are absent and workers have little access to having their voices heard. The question remains how to empower women and encourage them to collectively bargain, when according to statistics a significant percentage remain hidden in supply chains.
Anisha Rajapakse, Senior Manager Stakeholder Engagement shared FTA’s future plans of women’s empowerment projects in India and Bangladesh and reiterated FTA and its members commitment to actively responding to this issue.
Are you passionate about these issues? Would your company like to be more engaged in this topic?
Here’s some of our upcoming events where we will continue to discuss the issue of empowering women in supply chains:
- 10 August: FTA/ BSCI – FWF Producer Forum ‘Preventing Sexual Harassment at the Workplace’, New Delhi - India
- 11 August: FTA Member and Stakeholder Consultation: How Business Can Protect the Rights of Female Workers in Supply Chains?’, New Delhi – India
- 3 – 4 October: FTA Regional Sustainability Symposium ‘Promoting Responsible Business Practices in Asian Supply Chains’, Colombo – Sri Lanka
If you are interested in finding our more about FTA’s work on empowering women in supply chains, please contact Anisha Rajapakse, FTA Senior Manager Stakeholder Engagement.