Since 2011, Levi Strauss & Co. has been promoting Worker Wellbeing Initiative that expands beyond enforcing simple compliance in its supply chains. Levi Strauss & Co. has promised that 80% of Levi's products will be purchased from factories with worker wellbeing programs by 2020. China is an important country for Levi's global supply chain, so Levi’s has been focusing on and seeking to expand the coverage of Worker Wellbeing Initiative in China.
Levi's hopes to improve worker well-being through partnerships with strategic suppliers. The worker well-being programs include the following aspects: economic empowerment, health and family well-being, equality and acceptance, and workplace satisfaction.
As Levi's partner in social responsibility, Verité has been providing technical support to Levi’s Chinese suppliers implementing worker well-being projects since 2017. Our technical support mainly includes three aspects:
First, Verité assists Levi's licensees and factories in conducting worker well-being surveys.
The success of the worker well-being program depends on factories’ deep understanding of workers' needs. To this end, Levi's has worked with world-class academic institutions to design and develop a questionnaire and survey method for assessing and collecting workers' needs. Professional consultants from Verité trained the social responsibility team of Levi's licensees and the factories 's human resource management team, on understanding and correctly using the questionnaire to investigate and understand the needs of workers. Verité consultants also visited the factories to carry out on-site needs assessment when necessary. In order to determine the most urgent needs of workers, the survey collected relevant information from workers and factory management through questionnaires, worker interviews and management interviews.
Secondly, Verité provided technical support for the formulation of worker well-being strategic plan and impact monitoring.
After determining the needs of workers, Verité provided technical support for licensees and factory managers. Verité helped them identify and prioritize worker needs, based on the needs of the workers and the resources of the factories. Verité helped the factories to develop and establish worker well-being strategies suitable for the factories. Verité also assisted the effective implementation of those strategies by guiding the factories in setting key performance indicators for the program, including business performance indicators. These efforts allowed the factories to continuously keep track of program goals. In addition, Verité assisted the factories in regularly monitoring the implementation of the WWB plan and collecting relevant performance indicators. Ultimately, the factories realized that investments in worker well-being not only responded to the needs of their workers, but also had a positive impact on their business.
Thirdly: Impact Evaluation.
After implementing the worker well-being plans for a period of time, Verité evaluated the impact of the project on the factories. The assessment method was similar to the needs survey method. The data from the baseline survey and the final evaluation were compared and analyzed, the key performance indicator data monitored by the factories every month were also used to evaluate the impact of the program on worker well-being, and generate suggestions for continuous improvement of the WWB program.
During process of implementing the WWB, Verité was not only a consultant, but also a partner for the factories. Verité helped factories achieve the dual goals of improving worker well-being and business performance. Our specific supports also included:
1. Organize workshops for the participation factories, which strengthened the factories management’s understanding of the WWB program and encouraged collaboration among factories in sharing their best practices with each other.
2. Regularly collect local resources in each factories locale and provide relevant information to the factories.
3. Develop training modules for workers on the usage of social media platforms, and provide the training of trainers training (TOT) to factories internal trainers on how to deliver the modules to workers. The training modules helped enhance the ability of workers to obtain information and mutual support.
4. Assist the project factories in setting up social media groups, and strengthen the contact and communication among workers, and between workers and management.
5. Provide 40 worker online training courses for free of charge to the project factories, to enrich the available resources for the project factories and workers.
Through this process, Verité was happy to see that supplier factories that actively participated in the WWB program benefited significantly from the initiative. In one factory, many workers were originally dissatisfied with the canteen. As a result, the factory provided training for all workers on communication and grievance and established a WeChat group for workers to collect and communicate their grievances. In the beginning, workers were hesitant to participate in the WeChat group, then they used the platform to criticize the canteen fiercely. Because management staff did not know how to respond, the atmosphere in the WeChat group became very tense. Verité consultants noticed the situation, and guided the workers to make suggestions more effectively, in addition to guiding the management staff to respond to workers more positively. After a period of time, the WeChat group had become very active; workers actively put forward questions and feedback. The number of complaints in the factory had increased from only 2 in the previous year to an average of 8 per month. Through the effective interaction between workers and managers, the satisfaction of workers for the canteen increased by 16%, and the number of people dining in the factory canteen increased by 44%. Due to the improvement of the effectiveness of the factories complaint mechanism, and the actual solution to workers’ issues, more workers deemed that managers were willing to listen to their appeals and opinions, and workers were more willing to express their appeals to the managers. The proportion of workers who were not satisfied with the results of the complaint reduced. Finally, the improvement of the factory complaint mechanism positively impacted the business performance indicators of the factory. Compared with the previous year, the number of workers who quit the factory decreased by 74%, and the worker sense of engagement at work increased by 6.2%.