Supporting the Ethical Trading Initiative to make ethical trade work more gender sensitive

Over the last 12 months, WISE has been working with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) to strengthen the integration of gender and social inclusion into their strategic approaches, policies, practice, monitoring and behaviours, to support ETI members in making their ethical trade work more gender sensitive.

ETI is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. ETI holds companies to account in meeting their obligations as ETI members to demonstrate year-on-year improvements in relation to the ETI Base Code – demonstrating changes in their business operations and throughout their supply chains. ETI members commit to the promotion of the ETI Base Code, which outlines nine standards, based on the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, in their own operations and their supply chains. ETI provides guidance to its members on a range of labour rights related issues in the form of information materials and training.

To support the ETI Secretariat’s  implementation of ETI’s Gender Strategy, WISE conducted a gender audit in 2017. WISE was subsequently commissioned to develop the ETI Base Code Guidance – Gender Equality as part of a series of accessible guidance documents developed by  ETI to provide information to its members on a range of labour rights related issues.  The two-part guidance document:

  • Aims to help businesses understand the likely gender issues in their supply chains and provide guidance on how to respond to them;
  • Is targeted at addressing women workers’ needs because of their particular disadvantages;
  • Emphasises the need to develop women’s access to collective structures such as trade unions and action so as to understand their views and experiences, and give them a voice in the workplace; and
  • Recognises that achieving gender equality in the workplace is a complex and long-term process which requires a focus on the challenges women face in the economy and in society – and which cannot be achieved by companies alone.

Part A sets out the rationale for addressing gender issues in supply chains and provides an overview of the key factors affecting women in the workplace and the ways in which these are interlinked. It outlines the gender dimensions of the ETI Base Code and the kinds of challenges companies face in observing the principles enshrined in the Code.

Part B provides specific guidance on how to address gender issues in supply chains. This document provides guidance for companies on how to meet their corporate responsibilities in relation to respecting women’s rights and reporting against these obligations. Drawing on the ETI Human Rights Due Diligence Framework, it provides information on how to move beyond a “do no harm” approach, and towards integrating gender equality and women’s rights more explicitly into due diligence risk assessment processes and into their businesses. Structured around a roadmap, Part B explains how businesses can take a graduated and long term approach to integration of gender equality considerations and women’s rights both within their own organisation and with their supply chain companies.

WISE is developing a training course on gender and ethical trade for ETI, aimed at developing the understanding of gender equality as an enabler of workers’ rights. The training will be designed to equip participants with the knowledge and skills to:

  • Understand gender inequality in the supply chain and why the focus is on women;
  • Make the business case for greater gender equality in the supply chain; and
  • Demonstrate the cross-cutting nature of gender equality as critical for achieving all the Base Code standards.

Using the guidance document as a basis for course material, the WISE team are aligning the methodology with ETI’s existing training offer which includes a mixture of: input of key concepts and facts regarding the situation of women workers in global supply chains; analysis of real case studies to illustrate the issues that women face in the work place; practical examples of good practice and working with other stakeholders including trade unions and NGO’s; and interactive group work to create sustainable solutions.







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