In the past three years, Partnership for Freedom has collaborated on two innovation challenges to inspire, reward, pilot and potentially scale constructive solutions to end labour trafficking and support survivors.
In 2015, PFF called upon developers, designers, advocates, and innovators to submit concepts for technological solutions that identify and address labor trafficking in global supply chains for goods and services for the Rethink Supply Chains Challenge.
In the first of our challenge finalists series, we chat to Good World Solutions, a platform analysing and mapping forced labour using a mobile communication channel between workers and supply chain leaders to report on working conditions.
GOOD WORLD SOLUTIONS
// Can you share with us the mobile solutions Good World Solutions has in identifying and addressing labour trafficking in global supply chains?
Good World Solutions is nonprofit social enterprise that uses data to create safer workplaces in apparel and electronics supply chains. Its mobile solution, Laborlink, achieves this impact by providing at-risk workers with a communication channel to report their real working conditions – from factory hazards to labor abuses. Simply with a mobile phone, workers can call Laborlink toll-free and privately answer survey questions in their native language, 365 days a year.
With more frequent and accessible communication, Laborlink is able to surface unheard worker voices and deliver reliable data to company and supply chain leadership. For sensitive subjects like harassment and abuse, Laborlink has received nine times greater disclosure compared to live agent call and face-to-face interviews. At a factory in China, 41% of workers reported verbal abuse via Laborlink while the factory’s audit showed no verbal abuse at all.
To build on this success, we are developing a new Laborlink Trafficking Module that will use unfiltered feedback from workers to effectively surface, map, and address issues of forced labor in new way.
// And how do the solutions address workers’ voices, recruitment and traceability?
Through the Rethink Supply Chain’s accelerator boot camp, we will adapt our worker engagement strategy to specifically meet the needs and sensitives of workers experiencing, or at-risk of experiencing, forced labor abuses. The new Laborlink Trafficking Module will have three areas of impact.
Improved supply chain visibility: The Laborlink survey questions will be developed and designed around known risk factors and warnings signs of forced labor. For example, a question could ask, “Can workers freely quit their job without any penalty?” Once the answers are aggregated and analyzed, it will be possible to map out and trace where illicit labor practices are occurring with a company’s sourcing footprint.
Protected and informed workers: With Laborlink, workers are able to receive voice and text messages directly to their phones. This feature makes it possible to develop targeted messaging that is relevant and tailored to specific worker needs, depending on how they responded to the survey questions. If the worker responds that they are unable to freely leave their position, Laborlink can automatically follow-up with additional questions to dive deeper into the issue. For example, is the worker’s visa or work permit tied to a single employer? Will wages be withheld for early contract termination? Is a fee required to return home?
Expanded understanding of modern slavery: Our standardised Trafficking Index Survey will make it possible to use direct worker feedback to benchmark trends over time and discover geographic and sector-specific correlations. This data insight will be published online and shared with the global community to build a better understanding of how to identify and prevent modern day slavery. It will also enable advocates and funders to channel funding to the most urgent needs, building on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) List of Goods Produced by Forced Labor.
| Good World Solutions activate technology enabling socially responsible supply chains, as their mobile Laborlink translates workers voices into data analysis
// What are the biggest challenges of capturing and mapping millions of data points to aid in eliminating forced labor?
Our team is excited to enter the Finalist Accelerator phase of the Rethink Supply Chain challenge. Through their expert mentorship and live boot camp, we will develop an effective strategy to engage with victims, or potential victims, of forced labor. This includes working with the appropriate NGOs and government agencies to identify at-risk populations, developing localized engagement strategies to encourage participation and prevent survey fatigue, and developing targeted educations messaging that workers will find helpful.
// What are the solutions to the potential red tape and bureaucracy faced with working on solutions in connection to forced labor?
We recognise that there is a serious challenge for victims of forced labor to find services or receive compensation for their losses. We are working closely with apparel and electronics supply chains to prevent these situations of forced labor from occurring in the first place. Through community awareness within the factory, managers and workers will be able to create safe and legitimate workplaces that adhere to global labor standards and newer legislation such as the UK Modern Slavery Bill and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.
// What projected impact will your solutions have regarding forced labour issues in five years time should Good World Solutions be the Rethink Supply Chains winner?
In five years, every company in the apparel and electronics sector should be able to confidently assess the risk of forced labor within their supply chains. Through continued surveying and mapping, factory management will be fully informed on the issue of forced labor and be able to sift out warning signs to quickly prevent labor abuses from occurring or reoccurring. Additionally, through informational messaging and mobile engagement, workers will be educated on how to effectively avoid predatory recruitment, illicit contracts, and fees in manufacturing jobs.
"Through the Rethink Supply Chain’s accelerator boot camp, we will adapt our worker engagement strategy to specifically meet the needs and sensitives of workers experiencing, or at-risk of experiencing, forced labor abuses."