Building New Collaborations
Building New Collaborations Tackling the most complex challenges
As we work to improve working conditions for the people who make our clothes, many of the issues that we face touch on systemic challenges that defy easy solutions. How can we best help to combat poverty or increase economic opportunity throughout the world? We know that we can’t answer these questions on our own and have consistently looked for new ways to collaborate with others.
We formed several new partnerships that focus on addressing complex, structural challenges affecting labor-management relations at garment factories.
We formed several of these new partnerships in 2013 and 2014, which focus on complex, structural challenges affecting labor-management relations at garment factories, along with the well-being of workers in the global apparel industry.
One major initiative is our partnership in ILO Better Work’s Workplace Cooperation Program in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Haiti and Jordan. This initiative aims to help workers and managers jointly resolve workplace issues and engage in respectful collaboration. We believe it will help to prevent future disputes, resolve problems more effectively, give greater voice to workers and improve productivity and competitiveness. For example, one focus of the program is to help break down the hierarchical dynamic between male middle managers and female garment workers. It also addresses the need to involve and disseminate information to all workers, not just the few who serve on committees.
Partnering with factory management, workers and third-party experts led to substantial improvements in labor practices and working conditions at our suppliers’ factories in Myanmar.
We are also helping to launch a new initiative at the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, a leader in the study of work, employment, labor policy and practices both nationally and internationally. We have made a two-year grant of $750,000 to support the launch of the school’s Project on Sustainable Labor Practices in Global Supply Chains, whose vision is to promote dialogue between multiple stakeholders to create more sustainable labor practices, especially in the garment sector.
The project’s approach is distinct in starting with research about what has worked – and not worked – in the variety of approaches that have been taken by both the private and public sectors to improve working conditions. Stakeholders from diverse backgrounds, including representatives of suppliers, labor unions and civil society, will then explore innovative approaches that are grounded in research and hold the potential to bring about greater change.