Worker-driven Social Responsibility Collaborative

In a world characterized by globalized markets, low-wage workers at the base of corporate supply chains remain isolated, vulnerable, exploited and abused. Worker-led social responsibility (WSR), a new model emerging out of workers’ struggles for human rights in supply chains, in particular the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, places the expertise and leadership of workers at the core of creating the solution. We are convinced of the need for this new model and in collaboration with our partners, in the Spring of 2015, launched a multi-disciplinary WSR Collaborative to develop and implement a strategy to expand the model into other sectors and locations. The WSR approach pioneered in Florida is now influencing supply chain accountability efforts across the globe. The Bangladesh Accord – a groundbreaking, worker-enforced program due to years of effort by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) and allied groups to make garment factories in Bangladesh safe – involves more than 190 apparel brands and retailers that have made binding commitments. It draws on the WRC’s experience enforcing apparel industry labor codes, on the experience of the CIW and the Fair Food Program, and on the strategies once used by American unions to curb sweatshops in the United States. WSR has the potential to afford protection across the globe for many of the most vulnerable and lowest-wage workers. The Core Participants Creators, practitioners and proponents of the WSR model will lead the Collaborative. The Collaborative's founding members include the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Fair Food Standards Council, Workers Rights Consortium, Migrant Justice, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, the National Economic and Social Right Initiative and T’ruah. Worker-led organizations will play a central role, supported by non-governmental organizations and scholars in the field and the collaborative is currently housed at NESRI. We expect participation in the collaborative to grow steadily as the WSR concept is further developed and disseminated. Core Functions 1) Learning platforms and tools: The Collaborative will create web and in-person learning platforms and tools on effective advocacy and implementation of the WSR model, including exchanges, convenings, assessment frameworks, best practices, lessons learned and analysis. This will constitute an invaluable repository of knowledge and experience on how to achieve genuine enforcement of human rights in supply chains. 2) Strategic and technical assistance: The Collaborative will provide support for workers rights groups, NGO’s, and businesses in developing and implementing a WSR model. Staff will provide direct support as well as draw on the expertise of the Collaborative members to develop strategies for new sectors and locations, and to address emerging challenges. This will include evaluation and assessment of efforts to implement the model to ensure that self-identified WSR initiatives in fact meet the criteria and are achieving real change through effective enforcement. 3) Field-wide Coordination: Moving the corporate accountability/responsibility field towards an effective model such as WSR requires significant outreach, education and coordination. The Collaborative will provide support and guidance for WSR efforts to develop in a coordinated fashion rather than at cross-purposes. It will also map opportunities to expand the model, to develop sustainable funding streams for implementation, generate information-sharing across efforts, and provide a vehicle for collective strategizing. 4) Promotion: The Collaborative will also promote the WSR model through media work, publishing, and coordinated public presentations. As part of this effort, the collaborative will also build a critique of the structural flaws in traditional social responsibility models, and work to ensure that the new paradigm for human rights in supply chains is firmly grounded in WSR principles.