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TEXTILE, CLOTHING, AND FOOTWEAR MANUFACTURING

These textile, clothing, and footwear manufacturing sector tools can be used by manufacturers to identify opportunities for enhancing gender integration, assess the current extent of gender integration across policies, practices, and operations, and advise suppliers and facilities on how to better integrate gender through their operations and supply chain.

OVERVIEW

Understand why integrating gender into textile, clothing, and footwear manufacturing is good for business and enhances well-being of employees.

GENDER OPPORTUNITIES
EXPLORER

Explore opportunities to better integrate gender in group-level governance and in facility operations.

Gender
Self-Diagnostic Tool

Complete a questionnaire to assess and generate a customized scorecard to diagnose strengths and areas for improvement for integrating gender across policies, practices, and operations.

CASE STUDIES

Explore examples of how manufacturers have integrated gender into their operations, and the resulting business and social benefits.

  • Textile, Clothing, and Footwear Manufacturing
    Gender Opportunities Explorer

    The Gender Opportunities Explorer highlights opportunities to better integrate gender in supplier-group governance and in a factory’s policies, practices, and operations.

    Click through the business domains underneath the Start button to explore opportunities most relevant for the supplier and factory:

    • Institutionalizing gender equity (policies, commitments, internal/external communication)
    • Recruitment & hiring
    • Promotion & employee evaluation
    • Professional development & skill building
    • Pay & Compensation
    • Addressing gender-based violence & harassment
    • Care & support for working parents
    • Employee health, safety, & well-being
    • Accommodation & transportation
    • Measurement

    Opportunities are categorized as foundational or advanced. Foundational opportunities are actions that can be considered a “first step” toward gender integration. Advanced opportunities are actions for more mature gender integration.

  • Institutionalize commitments to ensure gender integration efforts are successful across the supplier group and its factories:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Ensure minimum national and international labor standards for all employees are met. This includes: access to unions, grievance mechanisms, payment of minimum wages, parental leave, provision of correct personal protective equipment (PPE), safety of physical facilities, and stringent harassment policies.
      • Ensure women’s equal representation in business continuity and response planning to uncommon events and disruptions (e.g., disease outbreaks, civil disorders, or natural disasters).
      • Assess and revise internal and external communications to contain gender neutral and/or gender equitable language and photos (e.g., change "lineman" to "lineworker" or "seamstress" to "sewer" and include male and female employees in photos used for marketing/promotional materials, training manuals, etc.).

      Advanced

      • Collaborate with governments, employees', and employers' organizations on how to promote gender equity at work (e.g., through bipartite and tripartite social dialogue, industry seminars, conferences, and/or working groups).
      • Have an official plan to promote diversity and inclusion, of which gender is a prominent feature. The plan may outline strategies to promote diversity and inclusion in the supplier group’s workforce and/or in its factories. Strategies to enhance gender diversity may be a part of this plan, alongside strategies to enhance diversity among other identities. This plan could be established by the supplier group or by factory/at the factory-level only.
        • Include targets and measurement systems within the diversity and inclusion plan.
        • Report externally on plan for diversity and targets, and regularly report on progress towards those targets (e.g. through annual reports, in press releases, on supplier group website, or industry-wide forums).
      • Demonstrate formal leadership commitment to gender equity. A formal leadership commitment signals the supplier group’s awareness for the importance of gender equity and the role it plays in their business. The commitment can be any action or statement that addresses the importance of treating all genders fairly, and tailoring support and services to their respective needs. This can also include any action taken to specifically empower women. The commitment(s) are largely communicated externally, but may also be communicated internally. Examples can include: a public statement or press release from leadership addressing the topic; communicating the commitment on the supplier group’s website or annual report; participating in panels or events on the topic; joining industry or NGO working group groups on the topic; signing on to international commitments or principles to promote gender equity in business (e.g., the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles); engaging in advocacy on the topic; a standalone female labor policy (a policy detailing specific benefits and support for female employees); etc.
      • Create a representative committee composed of employees and factory representatives to organize and support initiatives which promote gender equity in the workplace.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Perform regular reviews of all workplace policies for equity and inclusion:
        • Modify policies to contain gender-inclusive language.
        • Create ways for employees in all roles and levels to provide regular, confidential input into policies to ensure they are responsive to employee needs.
        • Ensure all policies and their content are made accessible for all languages spoken by employees across the factory, supplementing with audio-based or visual materials in low literacy settings.
        • If operating factories in multiple countries, ensure policies and workplace systems are contextually appropriate and relevant based on local laws and norms.
      • Create easy-to-access, confidential, and anonymous feedback mechanisms for employees to share opinions on the practical implementation of policies, perceptions of leadership and workplace culture, and private experiences of disrespect, discrimination, and/or harassment at work. Ensure the mechanism is coupled with resources to provide solutions best suited for their needs and without fear of retaliation.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Facilitate workplace education and understanding of the importance of gender equity among employees of all levels:
        • Engage men as important allies for gender equity.
        • Communicate that all employees benefit in an equitable workplace. Inclusion and acceptance drive business success. Having more diverse teams and empowering those of all genders, ethnicities, races, etc., to provide input into production processes contributes to business outcomes, such as increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism. Communicate these messages through trainings with all employees, and enshrine these principles in the supplier group’s values, across policies, and in communications coming from senior leadership and management.
        • Provide gender education/training to all employees on traditional gender roles (e.g., household division of labor and economic decision making), stereotypes, and experiences related to gender identity. Provide specific training to supervisors on how to communicate with employees, foster teamwork, resolve conflicts, and encourage female employees to pursue leadership training and opportunities. Ensure all new groups of employees and supervisors participate in training.
        • Provide unconscious bias training to challenge traditional notions of gender roles at home, work, and in the community to employees at all levels.
        • Implement specific programs focused on equipping female employees with skills, networks, and resources to enhance their self-confidence, participation in decision-making processes, and well-being. For specific examples, refer to Professional Development & Skill Building Section.
  • Implement equitable recruitment and hiring processes that attract qualified women and enable them to secure positions across roles and functions:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Modify job descriptions and listings to remove bias. Wording can impact whether more women or men apply. Research shows “masculine” adjectives like competitive, determined, superior, and expert can deter female candidates. All qualifications should directly tie to duties performed on the job (e.g., for physically demanding roles, describe specific tasks like climbing a ladder rather than encouraging the “physically fit” or "strong" to apply).
      • Discourage inclusion of photographs, marital status, number of children, and religion on requests for resumes or in job applications.

      Advanced

      • Expand recruitment networks to attract a more diverse applicant pool in functions and roles that are traditionally male-dominated (e.g., management and/or technical roles). Look into women's organizations or groups at universities, training institutes, and/or engineering programs to offer internships to high potential female candidates. Work within existing recruitment networks to encourage female candidates to apply.
      • Develop outreach programs or partnerships with educational institutions that attract both male and female job candidates for managerial and technical positions to build a robust pipeline of talent (e.g., through scholarships, university visits, or paid apprenticeships).
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Define objective hiring criteria to evaluate candidates against the skills and abilities required for a position to prevent unspoken or subjective criteria from influencing hiring decisions.
      • Implement interviewing tactics that promote equitable and diverse hiring:
        • Prohibit inquiring about the status or plans of marriage, pregnancy, or care responsibilities in job applications or during interview processes.
        • Ask potential hires the same question. Develop an interview script that is used for each candidate for a certain job or role.
        • (Where possible) Use a diverse team of interviewers (including all genders), and use the same interview team for all candidates for a certain position.

      Advanced

      • Implement interviewing tactics that promote equitable and diverse hiring:
        • For management level positions and above, reduce bias in selection process by looking for examples and qualities where the candidate has demonstrated management/leadership capacity, outside of traditional management experience or job history. This can help avoid excluding those who are talented, but do not have previous management experience.
        • Strive to interview a gender diverse pool of candidates for positions at management-level and above.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Ensure employees are hired under formal employment contracts to ensure decent working conditions and that employment benefits (including pay, social protection, etc.) extend to all employees, regardless of contract or employment status.
      • Avoid excessive hiring of employees under short-term (one year or less), temporary, or seasonal contracts. Structuring contracts in this way can deny employees' full entitlement to benefits, as well as increase employees' risk of forced or uncompensated overtime, sexual harassment and coercion, and verbal abuse.
      • Explain contract terms to all new hires. Ensure contracts are accessible in employees' native languages, are explained verbally to employees of low literacy, and are provided with adequate time for the employee to review. Communicate policies on working hours and overtime, payment structures, leave policies and procedures for requesting leave, provision of health insurance and benefits, OSH requirements, anti-sexual harassment policies, and available grievance mechanisms accurately, completely, and in terms the employee can understand.
      • Closely monitor use of probationary periods and provide additional support to ensure the safety of employees during probationary periods. Probationary periods can increase employees' risk to sexual harassment, coercion, and other safety conditions. They can also deny employees' full entitlement to benefits and lead to exploitative contracting terms.
        • If probationary periods are required, pay a probationary wage that is at least equivalent to the legal minimum wage and institute regular meetings throughout the period to review performance. Institute a post-probationary review and documentation process to ensure any decision to not pursue employment after probation is based solely on performance/ability to do the job.
  • Attract, develop, motivate, and retain workforce talent with equitable opportunities to build skills and advance:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Provide training opportunities that cover both soft skills (communication, negotiation, problem-solving, leadership) and hard/technical skills needed for professional growth and to learn skills outside of current roles.
      • When offering trainings, collect data on who is participating and who the opportunities are offered to. If numbers are inequitable, consider ways to create more balanced participation (e.g., content, delivery style, and accessibility outlined above).
      • Annually review and update training programs to improve effectiveness, account for changes and developments in the industry, and incorporate feedback from all employees on the training's content and accessibility.

      Advanced

      • Tailor training content and delivery style based on all employees' needs to ensure accessibility and effectiveness of knowledge and skills transfer. Consider language of instruction; the sex, race, and socio-economic level of the facilitator; and literacy levels to ensure content is accessible to all participants. While facilitators do not need to match every demographic characteristic of the participants, it is important that the participants find the facilitator relatable and “like them” in order to help internalize the content.
      • To make the training accessible for all employees, consider measures such as time of day of training (offering training during business hours to ease conflicts with family responsibilities and ensure transportation safety), location of training, compensation for time off the production line, reduction in the day’s production targets, support/permission from supervisors to participate, and/or provision of transportation and childcare.
      • Provide training to upskill women for technical roles, including skills development to learn new technologies in production and linework. Skills upgrading has the potential to improve operational efficiency and product quality, and filling these roles from within can reduce costs. For women, this can increase earnings and open employment opportunities, especially to operate new technologies and occupy higher skilled roles – preparing them for potential increases in automation in linework.
      • Develop a structured rotational program to facilitate employees' exposure to other units, roles, and levels within the workplace, while also learning new skills. Cross-training makes businesses more resilient and flexible, while improving employee preparation for diverse work and professional development.
      • Ensure any program aiming to empower women and facilitate their entry into leadership or technical roles is accompanied with monitoring and mechanisms to prevent harassment, violence, or any other potential retaliation efforts towards women seeking to fill non-traditional roles. Communicate the rationale and importance behind intentional women's empowerment programs to mitigate any unintended consequences. Use confidential, anonymized feedback and communication mechanisms to ensure women are able to confidently voice opinions without fear of retaliation.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Develop partnerships with education and training institutions to facilitate employees' access to technical skills training and knowledge.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Foster a culture of cohesion and support by facilitating Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) or committees organized based on commonalities or areas of interest among the workforce (i.e., women in leadership, working parents, sexual orientation allies). Engage with unions and ERGs to understand needs and opinions of all employees.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Design equitable pathways to promotion for women and men in order to attract, develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent:

      Foundational

      • Develop clear and transparent employee evaluation tools and promotion processes based on concrete measures, including but not limited to competency scales, promotion criteria, and performance factors that are consistent across similar job functions.
      • Assess employee performance through a standardized and objective review process, ensuring the performance review is reported back to employees and identifies strengths alongside concrete suggestions for improvement.
      • Communicate the evaluation process and promotion criteria to all employees, in all native languages and ensuring accessibility to employees of low literacy, for transparency and to ensure entire workforce is aware of potential pathways to promotion.

      Advanced

      • Train direct managers on gender equity, unconscious bias, and counteracting bias when evaluating employee skills and attitudes. Help them to understand how/why employees of different genders may use policies differently and not let this introduce bias when evaluating employee performance or considering candidates for promotion (e.g., women may take more annual/sick leave to care for children/elders, but this is not a reflection of their lower commitment to the job).
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Design equitable pathways to promotion for women and men in order to attract, develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent:

      Foundational

      • Structure job levels in a way which appeals to employees and motivates them to want promotions, ensuring pay and other benefits increase along with increases in responsibility.

      Advanced

      • Establish and implement inclusive, gender-equitable succession plans, ensuring succession plans intentionally identify and develop the skills of employees of all genders to fill future leadership positions. Research shows that individuals are subconsciously drawn toward promoting employees that are like them. In cases where there is a high percentage of men in management positions, this can create a cycle of promoting other men into leadership roles. Therefore, in organizations where women are under-represented in leadership, there is a need to be intentional in seeking and developing female talent to fill these roles.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Design equitable pathways to promotion for women and men in order to attract, develop, motivate, and retain organizational talent:

      Advanced

      • Ensure professional development and career advancement opportunities meet the needs of, are accessible to, and are used by employees of all genders."
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Cultivate and appoint qualified women to lead at all levels of the workplace:

      Foundational

      • Promote women's leadership and access to opportunities for decision-making roles in worker committees and/or trade unions.

      Advanced

      • Create a strategy to build a pipeline of qualified women for group or team leader, supervisor, and management level positions. Include measures to track sex-disaggregated advancement rates and regularly review promotion data for gender trends.
      • Design a pipeline identification process by identifying a pool of talented employees, giving special attention to female employees who could be promoted to group or team leaders, supervisors, or managers.
      • Train all levels of management on the importance of supporting women's leadership and how they can encourage promising female employees to pursue leadership training and skill-building opportunities.
      • Invest in supervisory skills training specifically focused on equipping female operators with skills to become group or team leaders, supervisors, or managers. Training should include technical skills required to supervise a production line (e.g., production processes, solving bottlenecks, line balancing, etc.), soft skills (e.g., on leadership, communication, etc.), and business knowledge (e.g., on human resources management, labor rights, etc.). Allow trainees to shadow an experienced supervisor to build on-the-job experience. Combine with training for all levels of management on the effectiveness of female supervisors, how to support female line supervisors, and unconscious bias to support female operators' career progression.
      • Focus on women in middle management. Provide them with leadership training, opportunities to build new skillsets, connections for mentorship or leadership coaching, and succession planning programs to prevent a gap in the talent pipeline. Research has shown that at the mid-tier stage, employees often need the most information and support. Being proactive in this area can help prepare top performers for advancement.
      • Support and retain women in top management by encouraging their participation in programs aimed at women in leadership, providing leadership training, and facilitating connections for one-on-one leadership coaching or mentorship support.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Cultivate and appoint qualified women to lead at all levels of the workplace:

      Advanced

      • Create conversation/connection/visibility opportunities with female role models. Highlighting successful women in leadership positions can attract female applicants and encourage current employees to take on leadership roles.
      • Establish a gender-sensitive mentoring program for employees to meet and learn from those in leadership, build technical and social skills, learn solutions to overcome barriers to advancement, and increase access to resources and professional networks. Consideration should be given as to whether male/female employees would prefer male/female mentors. Mentoring should also cover gendered topics, such as challenges with parental leave/balancing care and work responsibilities, how to avoid and report incidents of harassment, and how to navigate gendered power dynamics in the workplace.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Structure holistic compensation packages to elevate pay and benefits as a strategic resource to stand out as an employer of choice in local markets and to attract and retain talent across all roles and levels:

      Foundational

      • Establish a fair wage system that applies to all employees, including piece-rate, foreign, and seasonal employees. Guarantee that every employee has a right to compensation for a regular workweek that is sufficient to meet their basic needs (such as food, water, housing, healthcare, education, and transport) and provides some discretionary income.
      • If fair wage has not yet been achieved, ensure the system guarantees employees will earn at least minimum wage, or prevailing wage (whichever is higher), with opportunities or incentives for bonuses that will allow them to earn above the minimum. Then take steps to progressively close gaps between current pay and fair wage over time. (Prevailing wage is the level of wage generally paid in the relevant country or region for work in the same sector and for comparable levels of responsibility and experience)
      • Survey employees to understand their cost of living (in collaboration with other external data sources) to ensure wages align with local cost of living. Take steps to close any identified gaps.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Structure holistic compensation packages to elevate pay and benefits as a strategic resource to stand out as an employer of choice in local markets and to attract and retain talent across all roles and levels:

      Foundational

      • Communicate policies and structures for wages, working hours, and overtime to all employees. Ensure this information is available and explained in all native languages and understood by employees with low literacy during the contracting and onboarding process, along with regular explanations and reminders to the entire workforce.
      • Solicit employee feedback on compensation packages. Ask whether they feel their compensation meets their needs and whether they feel they are paid competitively compared to other employers in the region or country. Use findings to adjust wage system and estimates for local cost of living accordingly.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Structure holistic compensation packages to elevate pay and benefits as a strategic resource to stand out as an employer of choice in local markets and to attract and retain talent across all roles and levels:

      Foundational

      • Improve workforce awareness and financial literacy by providing ongoing training and/or accessible information on minimum wage requirements; how to read their pay slip; how to calculate their wages, benefits, and other forms of compensation; and procedures for wage adjustments.

      Advanced

      • Provide training on financial planning, budgeting, and savings to improve resilience to economic shocks and enable employees to take control of their finances.
      • Include content on gender norms related to household division of labor (time spent on income generating tasks versus domestic tasks), household economic decision-making, and how men’s and women’s financial contributions improve the family’s overall economic stability and resilience. Encourage participants to understand how these norms impact their lives and how creating a more equitable distribution of labor, decision-making, and contributions can benefit the family.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Incorporate procedures to routinely analyze compensation packages and pay equity across all areas of the workplace, and build capacity to address and close pay gaps:

      Foundational

      • Establish a stand-alone policy or commitment to provide equal pay for work of equal value.
      • Implement formal protocols to ensure pay processes (including wages, recruitment, and hiring of foreign employees), incentive-based payments, probationary wages, and different wages for employees living in on-site accommodations are implemented appropriately and that manager discretion doesn’t promote inequality or discrimination.
      • Routinely analyze wages across all job categories and levels to optimize compensation systems and ensure fairness:
        • Routinely analyze wages and pay systems based on community and national context, wage adjustments in other areas of the factory, and on compensation practices of similar companies and/or main competitors in the market. Continuously review to monitor gaps and adjust compensation packages accordingly.
        • Disaggregate wage and staffing data by sex (and across other racial, ethnic, etc. categories) and by functional role to identify any disparities, controlling for observable factors such as position level, years of experience, and education. This includes analyzing both whether women are concentrated in lower paid roles and whether employees of different genders are paid similarly in the same positions.
        • Include analysis of other financial benefits such as bonuses, insurance benefits, and leave availability when reviewing compensation.

      Advanced

      • Routinely analyze wages across all job categories and levels to optimize compensation systems and ensure fairness:
        • Review workplace structure and job descriptions to see if there are differences or inconsistences that may be used to differentiate the same or similar jobs by gender, and thereby justify lower pay.
      • If wage discrepancies are discovered, implement a plan to progressively achieve greater pay equity.
      • Communicate results of wage analysis and steps taken to ensure pay equity in quarterly or annual reports to leadership. Results and steps taken can also be communicated externally and/or to all employees through annual reports or newsletters.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Incorporate procedures to routinely analyze compensation packages and pay equity across all areas of the workplace, and build capacity to address and close pay gaps:

      Foundational

      • Do not ask for previous salary history or have applicants name a salary when hiring.
      • Create narrow pay bands, so there is less room for variation of salaries within the same roles.

      Advanced

      • Provide managers with pay data for the organization, benchmarks for their male and female supervisees, and if applicable, market information on employment in the industry.
      • Inform employees of low, median, and high pay ranges for particular roles and of relevant national wage laws in a language and format which can be easily understood
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Develop and implement pay structures and mechanisms which facilitate employee safety, stability, and empowerment:

      Foundational

      • Eliminate individual piece-rate pay structure. Individual piece-rate systems have been shown to negatively affect employee health, increase risk of accident and injury, and increase vulnerability to mistreatment such a wage withholding, sexual harassment and coercion, and verbal abuse. Evidence also shows individual piece-rate employees are paid less consistently and, in some contexts, significantly less than hourly or salaried employees.

      Advanced

      • When providing incentive-based pay or bonuses, focus on gain sharing, where employees receive time rates plus a bonus linked to group productivity, quality, safety practices, or waste reduction efforts.
      • Consider compensation or in-kind benefits outside of productivity and production processes to reward participation in organizational strengthening activities (such as participation in employee engagement or well-being surveys, Kaizen activities, or other strategic problem-solving initiatives).
      • Involve employee representatives or committees in structuring, designing, and revising the incentive-based pay system to increase transparency, confidence, and ownership of the system. Ensure the system is simple and transparent – with employees understanding exactly how it works, and with the system rewarding employees according to the difficulty and quality of their work. Include trade union representatives in the design to ensure the system is built on fairness and respect.
      • Ensure supervisors’ pay structures align with the compensation structure of the employees they supervise (e.g., if performance-based incentives are used, the supervisors’ targets should be based off of their supervisees’ targets and aligned with the complexity of the items produced).
      • Ensure incentive structures are aligned across departments (e.g., hourly pay plus production-based bonuses) and ensure take-home pay of employees in similar-skilled departments (e.g., sewing and cutting) is similar. This contributes to achievement of production goals and equity among employees.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Develop and implement pay structures and mechanisms which facilitate employee safety, stability, and empowerment:

      Foundational

      • Where strong digital banking system exists, establish digital payment systems to pay directly into bank accounts of all employees. When payments are given in cash or checks, it is possible for wages to be withheld for disciplinary purposes or in exchange for additional unpaid work, overtime, or sexual favors. Further, research shows that when digital payments are made directly into bank accounts in a woman’s name, it increases her control over how the money is used (savings and/or expenditures) and gives her a greater role in household economic decision-making. Accompany digital payments with materials for employees to understand how it works, ensuring information is accessible in all native languages and with visuals.
      • Provide HR and other key personnel with training on administering digital payroll, ensuring those responsible for wage payment are knowledgeable on minimum wages, rates for regular and overtime hours, calculating benefits , and keeping accurate records.

      Advanced

      • If applicable, partner with local banks and financial institutions to help employees set up their own bank accounts.
  • Address sexual harassment and all forms of gender-based violence and harassment at work to foster a healthy climate where employees are safe and productive:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Implement a fair, transparent, accessible, and confidential reporting process/mechanism that assigns clear responsibilities and accountability structures, and establishes a clear timeline for addressing complaints, including those regarding harassment and abuse.
      • Ensure the mechanism is responsive to all native languages spoken by employees and with options for employees of low literacy.
      • Ensure mechanism triggers a timely and discreet investigation and resolution procedure appropriate to the severity of the complaint and its impact on the employee.
      • Establish a means to document and track grievances to ensure timely response back to the employee, maintaining confidentiality throughout.
      • Establish multiple channels (e.g., grievance/suggestion boxes in private and secure locations that are easily accessible; an appropriately trained and diverse selection of supervisors, team leaders, HR department representatives, department managers, or other workplace officials; appropriately trained trade union representative(s), worker representative(s), or members of worker committees; social dialogue/bi-partite discussion, telephone, SMS, or e-mail hotlines; and online or app-based mobile platforms) for victims to report and for bystanders to provide anonymous tips about potential harassment taking place.
        • Ensure that at least one channel will maintain complete anonymity (e.g., phone or online) and at least one is an independent channel (e.g., managed by a third party).
      • Identify multiple individuals (not just senior HR) who can receive reports/complaints to improve accountability. Ensure those identified are trained in how to appropriately handle sensitive grievances on harassment, violence, and gender specific issues.
      • Raise awareness of and communicate instructions on how to use the grievance mechanism to all employees. Share information using terms and language employees will understand, supplementing with audio/visual instruction.
      • Maintain confidential records on each grievance, the investigation process, and final resolution(s).

      Advanced

      • Engage qualified third parties to also receive reports of harassment and abuse from employees.
      • Provide pre-paid calling cards or phone access for employees to contact the hotline or third party (if applicable).
      • To encourage others to use the grievance mechanism and build trust in the process, regularly inform employees about resolved cases and their final resolution(s), omitting identifying details to preserve confidentiality.
      • Analyze records to identify root cause(s) and develop plans to respond to broader/systemic issues raised by employees through the grievance process.
      • Regularly collect feedback to refine and strengthen the grievance mechanism. Conduct surveys or focus groups to ask employees preferred communication channel(s), their level of trust with the system, and recommendations for improvement. When seeking employee feedback, ensure respondents are proportionally representative of the overall workforce and are safe from any potential retaliation for sharing honest opinions.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Have a strong anti-harassment and abuse policy that employees are aware of. The policy should include:
        • A statement committing to a discrimination- and harassment-free workplace.
        • Protects those within all spaces as defined by ILO’s definition of “world of work” (including: public and private spaces; in onsite healthcare facilities; in places where employees take rest breaks, have meals, or use sanitary or washing facilitates; during work-related trips, travel, trainings, conferences, events, or social activities; in employer-provided accommodation (if applicable); when commuting to and from work; and through work related communication.
        • Clear definitions and examples of harassment and abuse (including physical abuse, psychological abuse, verbal abuse, and sexual harassment and abuse - in alignment with standard ILO definitions).
        • Method(s) for reporting grievances/complaints regarding harassment and abusive behavior.
        • A statement that no employee will be punished or retaliated against for reporting harassment or abusive treatment or behavior in good faith (i.e., a non-retaliation or whistleblower clause). This statement should protect both those who have experienced harassment and those who are bystanders (i.e., those who have witnessed the behavior).
        • Outlines a clear procedure used specifically for handling investigations of harassment and abuse
        • Defined consequences and remediation that can be taken in response and that are tailored to the nature of the offence and its impact on the victim. These could include: disciplinary counseling, an official warning, requirement to attend harassment awareness training, requirement to provide a formal apology, disciplinary action (e.g., demotion, transfer, suspension, probation, or dismissal), participation in mediation to restore relationships in the workplace, or prosecution by legal authorities.
        • Does NOT include a forced arbitration clause. (A forced arbitration clause takes away an employee’s right to sue, take legal action against, or appeal a decision made by their employer should their rights be violated. This clause should not be included in any policies, as an employee should have the right to seek external, legal remedy – especially in instances of harassment or abuse.)
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Establish a formal, discreet investigation procedure used specifically for investigating complaints of harassment and abuse.
        • Allow the victim to consult with and be represented by a trade union and/or by employee representatives during the investigation and when evaluating final resolution(s).
        • Consult the victim on the final resolution(s) and settlement to ensure they are satisfied and comfortable. Allow them to appeal the final resolution(s) should they feel dissatisfied.
      • Utilize a standardized mechanism to identify appropriate remedy(ies) for the victim and appropriate discipline(s) for the harasser.
      • Establish internal mechanism to enforce consequences and remediation. Ensure there are personnel who are trained and have the authority to implement the consequences outlined in the anti-harassment and abuse policy. Monitor disciplinary actions taken to ensure consequences are enforced and retaliation is not taken against the victim or witnesses.
      • Conclude investigation with a report detailing the complaint, investigation procedure, findings and final resolution(s).
      • Establish supportive policies and practices for victims. These may include emergency paid leave, restoring leave taken as a result of the incident, shift flexibility to attend investigation interviews or to access external support, financial compensation for time spent during the investigation, or change of work environment for either the victim or perpetrator. Ensure any change in work environment does not lead to a demotion, pay decrease, or negatively impact potential for promotion or a positive performance evaluation for the victim.
      • Socialize the policy with all levels of employees. Widely disseminate information in all native languages and using images or audio/video explanations.
      • Turn main ideas from the anti-harassment and abuse policy into user-friendly visuals/posters, using simple language that all employees will understand and pictures/visuals. These formats may include anti-harassment posters, a chart or images showing what is and is not harassment, a chart showing the individuals and places where employees can report, local support services available and their contact information, and flow charts to show reporting and investigation processes.
        • Ensure user-friendly formats are in all languages spoken by the workforce.
        • Display anti-sexual harassment posters and other visuals on notice boards, in common spaces, and other high visibility areas.
      • Have senior managers endorse messaging against all forms of harassment and abuse and participate in training and refreshers alongside employees.
      • Share and communicate the policy and behavior expectations to all those involved with the factory/company beyond just employees, including subcontractors, suppliers, security guards, etc.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Conduct training on the factory's anti-harassment and abuse policies and response procedures:
        • Ensure all employees know definitions for all forms of harassment and abuse, know the consequences, and know how to report an incident of harassment.
        • Ensure employees of all levels (from line workers to managers) receive the training and that content is tailored to each level.
        • Ensure all new hires receive training at time of hire and existing employees receive refresher trainings at regular intervals.
        • Incorporate role plays, visual examples, and other participatory activities which keep participants engaged and allow for hands-on learning with the material

      Advanced

      • Conduct training on the factory's anti-harassment and abuse policies and response procedures:
        • Include bystander training, which provides strategies and skills for witnesses to intervene and prevent harassment.
      • Conduct training to change workplace culture and prevent harassment. These trainings explore gender norms and attitudes that lead to sexual harassment and help participants think of how they can behave in a more equitable/respectful manner to both prevent harassment and create a more welcome workplace for all.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Ensure safe spaces:
        • Conduct a survey to identify whether employees have safety concerns when interacting with higher level employees, in physical spaces in the factory, and in their commute to/from work.
        • Discourage managers from meeting or communicating with supervisees after hours.
        • Depending on cultural context, consider allowing employees to bring a close colleague, union representative, or worker committee representative to one-on-one meetings.
        • Ensure safe spaces with windows are accessible in the main office area and in meeting rooms
      • See section on provision of safe accommodation and transportation for strategies to ensure safety and well-being in these spaces.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Maintain records on the type, pattern, incidence, and disciplinary action taken related to all forms of harassment and abuse in the workplace. Analyze to inform decisions and potential actions to address causes and incidents of harassment and violence.
      • Conduct an employee survey to gauge knowledge of what constitutes harassment and abuse, the different forms it can take, awareness of and satisfaction with reporting channels available, and satisfaction with company commitment to prevent and respond to harassment and abuse. When seeking employee feedback, ensure respondents are proportionally representative of the overall workforce and are safe from any potential retaliation for sharing honest opinions. Analyze data to understand whether changes are needed to policies and procedures to prevent and respond to harassment.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Collaborate with organizations providing direct legal, health, and counseling services to ensure employees who have experienced violence in the workplace or outside can access necessary support services. This includes ensuring all employees are aware of and able to access these services if needed and without fear of negative repercussions at work.
      • Make a public commitment to conventions protecting women and employees, for example: ILO Convention 190: Eliminating Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, ILO Convention 111: Discrimination in Employment and Occupation, and CEDAW: Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

      Advanced

      • Collaborate with brands, suppliers, trade unions, and local and international NGOs on solutions and to share innovative/successful prevention measures.
      • Participate in industry seminars (hosted by ILO-IFC Better Work and other multi-stakeholder initiatives) on sexual harassment and its prevention to better understand the topic.
  • Support working parents and caregivers to retain talent and ensure operational consistency across life transitions:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Have a paid maternity leave policy (ensure meets minimum requirement of government or ILO's Convention 183 on Maternity Protection of 14 weeks).
      • Have a paid paternity leave policy to enable fathers to support care responsibilities and bond with their child (if applicable, ensure leave meets minimum requirement of government).
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Establish return to work policies, providing a transition back to full time work for parents returning from leave.
      • For temporary job reassignment for pregnant employees or employees who have newly returned to work, ensure they are given full pay and there are no changes to their contract. Proactively communicate there will be no penalty for reassignment or upon returning to previous role.
      • Provide a private area / room for breastfeeding/pumping and provide ample breaks for nursing mothers. Ensure supervisors understand the need for nursing mothers to take additional breaks.

      Advanced

      • Support parents and caregivers returning to work by providing training to learn new skills and fill new roles. Provide training on any new managerial, administrative, or technical procedures, especially in contexts with long maternity leave policies such as Vietnam and India.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Establish scheduling processes that enable parents to know the timing of their shifts in advance and arrange childcare accordingly:
        • Provide at least 24 hours of notice prior to a voluntary overtime shift.

      Advanced

      • Establish scheduling processes that enable parents to know the timing of their shifts in advance and arrange childcare accordingly:
        • Establish and communicate consistent, predictable schedules at least 2 weeks in advance.
        • Allow for selection of shift timings and shift exchanges among employees, as appropriate.
        • Create a pool of trained “back up” employees (a “relief team”) who can step into various production roles when employees take leave or when unexpected care needs surface.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Support access to childcare for all employees regardless of supervisory level, job category, or contract status:
        • Assess what type of childcare services will best fit employees’ needs by gathering data on: number of employees with children, average age of children for whom care is needed, where employees would want the care service, needed hours of operation, safety to bring children on public transport or long commutes, etc.

      Advanced

      • Support access to childcare* for all employees regardless of supervisory level, job category, or contract status:
        • Define needs and provide regular childcare to align with those needs. Options could include: on-site childcare, reserved spaces and/or subsidized rates at external facilities, partnerships with public childcare providers, vouchers at external facilities, and referral services.
        • Define needs and provide intermittent childcare to align with those needs. Options could include: summer/holiday camps or emergency/back-up care arrangements.
        • Routinely assess uptake of childcare support by collecting data and requesting feedback on use, convenience, and safety. Then adjust provided options accordingly.
          * In locations where some form of childcare provision is mandatory by law, these actions would be considered foundational.
      • Support access to dependent care (elder, sick, etc.) for all employees regardless of supervisory level, job category, or contract status:
        • Assess what type of dependent care services will best fit employees’ needs by gathering data on number of employees responsible for dependent care and the type of services they are interested in (e.g., full time, part-time).
        • Define needs and provide dependent care options to align with those needs.
        • Routinely assess uptake of dependent care support by collecting data and requesting feedback on use, convenience, and safety. Then adjust provided options accordingly.
  • Provide health benefits, services, and educational resources tailored to the needs of men and women in the workplace:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Provide "medical leave" or comprehensive sick leave (ensure meets minimum requirement of government) for employees to tend to their own health needs, as well as health needs of their immediate family members or dependents.
      • Provide healthcare benefits for all employees, both national and foreign (ensure benefits for all employees meet minimum requirement of local government for national employees).
      • Eliminate excessive overtime by setting limits on an allowable number of hours to work in a week and monitor those working overtime. Manufacturers who offer predictable work hours increase safety and outputs, while supporting work-life balance and retention. Excessive overtime has negative health consequences on employees, increases absenteeism, and ultimately reduces productivity.

      Advanced

      • Subsidize the cost of safe, reliable birth control for employees at the factory clinic or through provided insurance.
      • Provide counseling and/or support services for stress management, mental health, nutrition, and fitness.
      • Provide free or subsidized healthy food options in factory canteen.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Provide on-site health clinic which can perform occupational and emergency medicine.

      Advanced

      • If there are no local clinics or hospitals that can service the factory, provide on-site health staff/clinic* with qualified health professionals who can address general health needs, reproductive health, and family planning, or partner with external health organizations who can provide on-site, mobile health services for general and specialized needs:
        • Ensure on-site health staff have formal training in diagnosing, treating, counseling, and providing referrals to ensure they can respond effectively to employees' health needs.
        • Establish confidentiality and privacy protections for patients who visit the clinic.
        • Implement referral system for employees to be referred to external specialists as needed.
        • Maintain evening operating hours to ensure accessible care for those working night shifts.
        • Provide health services for employees’ immediate family members, facilitating referrals to specialists as needed.
        *In locations where an on-site clinic is mandatory by law for employers of a certain size, these actions would be considered foundational.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Ensure OSH policy(ies) protect(s) women's reproductive health and pregnant women from hazardous substances and occupational accidents. Ensure employees have a complete understanding of hazards that may affect women, pregnant women, lactating women, HIV-positive employees, and other populations disproportionately - and that they feel they have the right to refuse unsafe work.
      • Facilitate temporary job reassignment for pregnant employees and those who recently gave birth when jobs may be physically challenging or involve hazardous materials/chemicals. Provide training for these women to fill alternate roles and provide training for other employees to backfill these roles. For any reassignment, ensure they are given full pay and there are no changes to their contract. Proactively communicate there will be no penalty for reassignment or upon returning to previous role.
      • (If applicable) Provide size-appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), especially taking into consideration the needs of pregnant and nursing women.
      • Ensure adequate facilities and supplies for menstruating women (e.g., safe, hygienic sanitation facilities with clean water for washing hands, designated area to dispose sanitation products).

      Advanced

      • Provide free or subsidized female sanitation products and pain medication.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Implement extensive health education, such as engaging with peer health educators on a regular basis or with health learning days/months:
        • Ensure health education programming provides information about menstruation to employees of all genders.
        • Provide reproductive health education for employees of all genders, including benefits and side-effects of different types of contraception.
        • Provide education on nutrition and how to access healthy food options in the canteen.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Regularly communicate health actions taken and services available for employees, distributing information in all languages spoken by employees and ensuring accessibility for employees of low literacy.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Collect workplace health data and integrate into existing data systems. Use data to monitor common health concerns and conditions and to distribute additional health information, bring in local specialists, or adjust OSH policies and/or PPE equipment.
  • Consider employee needs and safety in spaces that are outside of the immediate workplace, but are tied to their ability to feel safe and productive while at work:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Assess accommodation needs of women and men and implement strategies to ensure safety within accommodations:
        • Provide female-only, male-only, and family housing units/sleeping areas.
        • Ensure proper lighting in and around accommodations (at least one light in each bathroom, one reading light per occupant, and sufficient lighting in public spaces).
        • Ensure proper quality, number (at least 1 toilet per 15 occupants), and location (within 50 meters of each living unit) of sanitation facilities for all genders within housing units.
        • Provide security personnel to protect employees' safety in and around housing units, as needed.

      Advanced

      • If contracting a third-party to manage accommodations, share anti-harassment and abuse policy with contracted firm and communicate the policy applies in housing, as well as in the workplace.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Assess transportation needs of women and men to commute to/from work and implement strategies to improve their access and safety while commuting. Consider providing shuttles or stipends where appropriate, and/or adjusting factory shifts to accommodate safer transit times and routes.

      Advanced

      • If contracting a third-party to fill transportation needs, share anti-harassment and abuse policy with contracted firm and communicate the policy applies in transit, as well as in the workplace.
  • Measure progress on gender equity by collecting and analyzing sex disaggregated human resources data:

    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Foundational

      • Collect and track sex-disaggregated data related to the following:
        • Percentage of men/women at different job levels and categories
        • Promotion/advancement rates
        • Turnover
        • Absenteeism (unplanned)
        • Working hours/overtime
        • Pay rates
      • Maintain records on the type, pattern, incidence, and disciplinary action taken related to all forms of harassment and abuse in the workplace. Analyze to inform decisions and potential actions to address causes and incidents of harassment and violence.

      Advanced

      • Collect and track sex-disaggregated data related to participation in education or skills trainings.
      • If possible, also disaggregate by other categories such as race, nationality, and ethnicity.
      • Measure data points that reflect gender equity in the workplace, such as:
        • Percentage of eligible employees taking parental leave
        • Percentage of employees who remain with the supplier group or factory 1 year after taking parental leave
        • Percentage of women in technical roles
        • Number and type of grievances submitted
        • Grievances resolutions by number and type
      • Conduct an annual policy review to ensure policies align with best practices for rights and well-being. Incorporate employee input in the review process. Update policies accordingly.
      • Collect information on employee well-being and engagement through periodic anonymous surveys and focus group discussions. Employee perceptions may tell a different story than the existence of HR policies.
        • Where possible, disaggregate findings by different subgroups of employees (i.e., migrant employees, seasonal employees, employees of various tenure) to understand issues faced by different groups.
      • Use data to determine where there are important gender gaps, then implement targeted programming and/or policies to address these gaps and promote gender equity.
    • Key

      • Opportunities that are relatively inexpensive and easy to implement
      • Opportunities with high-impact potential for the business
      • Opportunities to enhance women’s economic empowerment

      Advanced

      • Collect data to track impact of uncommon events or disruptions (e.g., disease outbreaks, civil disturbances, or natural disasters) on employees of different identities (such as gender, race, nationality, and ethnicity).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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