ICT

Themes Key Findings

2018 Information & Communications Technology

The 40 ICT companies were assessed across the benchmark's seven themes, which were developed to capture the key areas where companies need to take action to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains: commitment; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. There are a total of 23 indicators across the seven themes. For each theme a company can score a total of 100 points.

32

Overall Score 2018 Information & Communications Technology
15 Theme Score

Summary of Results

As KnowTheChain's 2016 ICT benchmark found, worker voice was once again the lowest scoring theme. We continue to see large gaps in disclosure regarding what companies are doing to enable workers in their supply chains to use their voice and promote freedom of association, and a lack of evidence that supply chain workers have access to effective grievance mechanisms.

The benchmark findings show poor disclosure on both worker voice and supporting workers' right to freedom of association. Six out of 40 companies give examples of engaging directly with workers in their supply chains, or working with stakeholders to do so. Microsoft has provided education on labor rights and training on its pilot grievance mechanism at six first-tier and second-tier suppliers. NXP Semiconductors provides training to workers in its supply chains on its no recruitment fee policy, appropriate working conditions, reading paychecks, working hours, living conditions, and protections for workers who report their concerns.

Only three out of 40 companies referenced working with suppliers to improve their practices on freedom of association. However, despite the small number of companies that are taking action in these areas, this does mark a step in the right direction in company practices since 2016 when no companies scored points for worker voice or freedom of association.

Sixteen out of 40 companies disclose having a grievance mechanism in place that is available to suppliers' workers and to external stakeholders. However, companies typically do not demonstrate that the mechanism is effective, or whether it is used by workers in their supply chains. For instance, only three companies (Apple, Microsoft and Samsung) publish data on the operation of the supply chain grievance mechanism. This includes information on the number and type of complaints received by topic, per year. It is equally rare for companies to disclose evidence that mechanisms are available to and used by lower-tier suppliers' workers.

However, practices in this area have developed since 2016. Leading companies are starting to look into the effectiveness of grievance mechanisms in their supply chains. HP requires suppliers to have effective and confidential grievance mechanisms available in migrant workers' native languages. Apple requires suppliers to maintain records of information such as types and number of grievances, channels used by workers, and worker satisfaction with resolutions. Notably, Samsung discloses the percentages of types of complaints it receives regarding human rights at the supplier level, such as complaints about managers, wages, benefits, workhours, and others, thus demonstrating the mechanism is in fact used to report grievances of workers in supply chains.

Companies are taking some steps to ensure that workers are able to access the supply chain standards on forced labor that are applicable to them. Twenty-one out of 40 companies disclose that their supply chain standards are available in the languages of suppliers' workers. However, only a quarter of companies explain how they ensure those policies are communicated to workers in their supply chains.

Communication of Policies

The company ensures its human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards are available to supply chain workers in their native languages, and that its human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards are communicated to workers in its supply chains.

The company ensures: (1) its policies and standards, which include human trafficking and forced labor, are available in the languages of its suppliers' workers; and (2) its human trafficking and forced labor policies and standards are communicated to workers in its supply chains.

Low: 0
High: 100
35

Worker Voice

The company works with relevant stakeholders to engage with and educate workers in its supply chains on their labor rights. To ensure scalability and effectiveness, the company ensures that there are worker-to-worker education initiatives on labor rights in its supply chains, and it provides evidence of the positive impact of worker engagement in its supply chains.

The company: (1) works with relevant stakeholders to engage with and educate workers in its supply chains on their labor rights; (2) ensures that there are worker-to-worker education initiatives on labor rights in its supply chains; (3) provides evidence of the positive impact of worker engagement in its supply chains; and (4) provides at least two examples of worker engagement initiatives covering different supply chain contexts.

Low: 0
High: 100
5

Freedom of Association

To support collective worker empowerment, the company works with suppliers to improve their practices in relation to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and with local or global trade unions to support freedom of association in its supply chains. Where there are regulatory constraints on freedom of association, the company ensures workplace environments in which workers are able to pursue alternative forms of organizing.

The company: (1) describes how it works with suppliers to improve their practices in relation to freedom of association and collective bargaining; (2) works with local or global trade unions to support freedom of association in its supply chains; (3) ensures workplace environments in which workers are able to pursue alternative forms of organizing (e.g., worker councils or worker-management dialogues) where there are regulatory constraints on freedom of association; and (4) provides at least two examples covering different supply chain contexts of how it improved freedom of association for supply chain workers.

Low: 0
High: 12
1

Grievance Mechanism

The company ensures a formal mechanism to report a grievance to an impartial entity regarding labor conditions in the company's supply chains is available to its suppliers' workers and relevant stakeholders. The company ensures that the mechanism is effective across its supply chains.

The company: (1) ensures a formal mechanism to report a grievance to an impartial entity regarding labor conditions in the company's supply chains is available to its suppliers' workers and relevant stakeholders; (2) ensures that the existence of the mechanism is communicated to its suppliers' workers; (3) ensures that workers or an independent third -party are involved in the design or performance of the mechanism, to ensure that its suppliers' workers trust the mechanism; (4) discloses data about the practical operation of the mechanism, such as the number of grievances filed, addressed, and resolved, or an evaluation of the effectiveness of the mechanism; and (5) provides evidence that the mechanism is available and used by workers below tier one in its supply chains, or by relevant stakeholders in key supply chain contexts.

Low: 0
High: 90
20

Grievance Mechanism: Notable Example

Samsung

Samsung discloses that it offers its first- and second-tier suppliers several mechanisms to voice grievances, including telephone, e-mail, online and mobile phone reporting. The company further provides data on the percentage of complaints received via its grievance channel on issues related to work environment and human rights at the supplier level. These include reports regarding management, wages, work hours, health and safety, and benefits.

Recommended Action

Worker Voice

Companies should work with stakeholders to engage with workers in supply chains to ensure they understand and are able to exercise their labor rights. Engagement could be undertaken in collaboration with suppliers, local labor NGOs, and/or unions. When using technologies such as mobile phone apps to engage suppliers' workers, companies may wish to consider the WEST Principles to ensure meaningful engagement.