Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update April 2022

Welcome to Ergon’s regular newsletter covering our current and recent work in the business and human rights space.

Recent Ergon blogs 

The EUs’ mandatory due diligence proposals: The European Commission finally published its long-awaited proposal for mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence in February and there has been much comment. Carola Leyendecker lists a full compendium of commentaries from law firms, NGOs and advisory bodies.

And in a separate blog Steve Gibbons provides some initial thoughts on the proposal’s strengths and weaknesses.

Meanwhile, in Spain…: Santiago Porto looks at legislative proposals in Spain on the same subject, as well as the government’s new Action Plan on Forced Labour.

HRIAs: what have we learned: Kate Jelly and Catherine Morgans reflect on some common findings from our experience of conducting human rights impact assessments in food supply chains.

New reports & publications

Inclusive banking for LGBTI people
This report, developed by Ergon for the IFC, sets out the business case for supporting LGBTI inclusion in the banking sector, drawing on emerging practices from leading financial institutions. It features first-hand information shared by more than 10 leading international banks on how they are advancing opportunities for LGBTI people as employees and customers. This work was led by Kirsten Newitt and Sam Kelly.

Human rights impact assessment (HRIA) reports
ALDI South has published summary reports of three HRIAs we undertook in 2021 (as noted in Blogs above).  These reports cover Brazil nuts from Boliviacoffee from Brazil and avocados from Peru.

Additionally, in January, ALDI Nord published the report of the HRIA we conducted on wild catch seafood (focused on tuna). Studies on citrus production in Spain and tea from India are in the pipeline and will be published in the next few months. Lidl has similarly published the results of our HRIA looking at bananas sourced from Colombia.


Decent Work Country Programme for The Bahamas
Ergon supported the ILO and its tripartite partners to develop a next-generation Decent Work Country Program (DWCP) for The Bahamas. This involved in-depth analysis of the social and economic context of The Bahamas, support for social partner dialogue, and the development of policy recommendations.

Handbook on Grievance Mechanisms
Published by the Dutch Fund for Responsible Business (FVO) and researched by Ergon, this Handbook provides a step-by-step approach to building a GM, including key concepts, the business case, common challenges, and practical recommendations. It also contains five detailed case studies from different sectors (fisheries, electronics, palm oil, garments and agriculture).

Selected current and recent projects

Advancing employment opportunities for workers at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP)
Since July 2021, Ergon has been working with the IFC on pioneering new research on the role of the private sector in promoting the economic advancement of lower income and underserved workers and communities – those at the ‘base of the economic pyramid’ (or BOP) – in and through employment. The research focuses on emerging best practices from companies and investors that demonstrably contribute to better jobs and livelihood outcomes for ‘BOP’ workers – in ways that also create value for firms. The research includes the development of 15 company case studies highlighting innovative company practices that will contribute to a new flagship report, for publication later in 2022. For more information, please contact Sam Kelly.

Recruitment toolkit for employers
We are working with IOM IRIS to develop an ethical recruitment toolkit for employers. The toolkit will provide small and medium sized employers with the guidance and tools that they need to recruit and employ migrant workers responsibly. This will bring together an extensive and growing body of guidance, tools and good practice on the topic, whilst also contributing additional new materials. This work is being led by Matt Waller and Sarah McLeish.

Human rights due diligence: risk and impact assessments
We are seeing unprecedented demand for our services supporting human rights due diligence whether in supply chains, operations or project contexts. We have just completed our updated Forced Labour Index for Sedex covering more than 240 countries and territories and the largest four supply chain sectors (agriculture, food processing, manufacturing and logistics). The Index forms part of the Sedex Radar supply chain risk assessment tool. Contact Anya Marcelis for more information.

We completed three energy sector human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) during the last quarter (in Angola, Oman and Albania), involving baseline research, stakeholder engagement, impact scoring and mitigation action planning. We are in the process of delivering further food supply chain HRIAs in Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile. Please contact Steve Gibbons or Stuart Bell for more.

Living wage
Since October 2021, Ergon has been working with IDH to provide support on the IDH Living Wage framework for action. This has focused on practical actions that buyers and producers can take to close the Living Wage gap in supply chains, in relation to Step 4 (‘Close the Gap’) of the IDH Living Wage Roadmap. More information is available from Brett Dodge or Alastair Usher.

Transactional support and investigations
We continue to provide specific support to a range of DFI and financial sector clients with both transaction support and specific issue investigations. These range from broad due diligence on key social and management systems issues in relation to investments in financial intermediaries, through to specific on the ground assessments of labour and human rights performance. Please contact Macduy Ngo if you would like to know more.

Sectoral grievance process
We have just started to work with a German sector initiative to map and support design of the implementation of their agreed human rights grievance mechanism in Mexico. We hope to be able to share more information about this innovative and important initiative over the coming months.

New Ergonauts

We are delighted to welcome our two most recent colleagues. Carola Leyendecker has joined us as a Researcher from the German Global Compact Network. Carola holds a LL.M. double degree in International Economic Law and International Law & Security and also has an MSc in International Fashion Marketing.

Zachary Dexter, also a new Researcher, is working on sports and human rights projects and online labour rights trainings for practitioners in the oil and gas industry. He holds a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics BA with First Class Honours from Nottingham University.