Worker-Driven Social Responsibility

We partner with worker organizations to demand and create Worker-driven Social Responsibility models that ensure the human rights of workers at the bottom of corporate supply chains.

In 2015, worker organizations, allies, and technical advisors came together to create the Worker-driven Social Responsibility Network for the purpose of expanding, promoting, and replicating WSR in supply chains around the world.  NESRI is a founding member as well as the anchor of the Network. 

The WSR paradigm emerged from the successes of the Fair Food Program in US agriculture and the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh in the apparel sector. It has more recently been adapted to US dairy farms through the Milk with Dignity program. 

The WSR paradigm is founded on the understanding that, in order to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements, human rights protections in corporate supply chains must be worker-driven, enforcement-focused, and based on legally binding commitments that assign responsibility for improving working conditions to the global corporations at the top of those supply chains.  Several essential features distinguish the WSR approach from the failed CSR model.  Specifically:

  • Worker organizations must be the driving force in the creation, monitoring, and enforcement of programs designed to improve their wages and working conditions;
  • Brands and retailers must sign legally binding agreements with worker organizations, and those agreements must require the brands to provide financial support to their suppliers to help meet the labor standards established by the program, and to stop doing business with suppliers who violate those standards;
  • Monitoring and enforcement mechanisms must be designed to provide workers an effective voice in the protection of their own rights, including extensive worker education on their rights under the program, rigorous workplace inspections that are effectively independent of brand and retailer influence, public disclosure of the names and locations of participating brands and suppliers, and a complaint mechanism that ensures swift and effective action when workers identify abuses.

Recognition of this new paradigm is increasingly widespread and supporting it is now a moral and functional necessity.  Accordingly, a statement of principles has been developed and circulated for endorsement by interested individuals and organizations.


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