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.

Worker-driven Social Responsibility is a new model for the enforcement of human rights that emerged out of the innovative Campaign for Fair Food, spearheaded by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Worker-driven Social Responsibility represents a new paradigm for protecting human rights in global supply chains, one designed, monitored, and enforced by the very workers whose rights it is intended to protect.  

Workers at the Head of the Table: Workers have a vital and abiding interest in ensuring that their human rights are protected, and unique knowledge and experience about how abuses occur in the supply chain.  The WSR model leverages workers’ interests and perspectives by putting workers and their organizations at the head of the table in the creation and implementation of the standards intended to improve their own workplaces. 

Workplace Specific Codes of Conduct: In WSR, workers and their organizations design industry specific codes of conduct aimed at eliminating forms of abuse, exploitation and humiliation that workers have experienced for generations, but that no outside “expert” could ever envision from afar.

Worker-to-Worker Education; Complaint Resolution Mechanisms; Comprehensive Audits:  WSR does not rely on periodic and perfunctory audits as the primary monitoring mechanism, but rather includes regular and comprehensive audits by independent monitors, and complements those baseline audits with worker-to-worker education and a complaint resolution mechanism that workers can access at all times without fear of retaliation.  This allows workers to serve as an additional army of on-the-ground auditors, frontline defenders of their own rights, whose input through their complaints helps weed out the bad actors and practices leading to human rights violations. 

Market Consequences for Non-Compliance: WSR is based on clear, strict, binding and legally enforceable contracts between workers and corporate buyers at the top of the supply chain that require buyers to cancel contracts if violations are not immediately rectified or are so severe as to be considered “zero-tolerance” offenses.  Thus, the WSR approach is premised on real market consequences for violations of workers rights under the code of conduct. WSR sends an unmistakable message to suppliers about protecting human rights in supply operations as a central and non-negotiable priority.   

Locating Economic Responsibility at the Top:  WSR also requires corporate buyers to pay a price premium to address sub-poverty wages and mitigate increased costs to suppliers for additional human resource infrastructure needed for rights protection.  In this way, WSR addresses the downward pressure on wages that degrades the labor context for workers at the bottom of supply chains and addresses the concentration of purchasing power at the top that also squeezes suppliers.