Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update July 2022

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

Recent Ergon blogs 

Five priority social risks for ESG due diligence and reportingAnya Marcelis sets out some key social risk issues for companies starting out on human rights due diligence. A shorter version of this blog is also available on the Sedex website.

Tomorrow’s world of work: meeting the tech challenge: Ergon has advised our development finance clients on the decent work aspects of a number of platform work transactions. In this blogGenevieve Auld explores some of the potential safeguards that digital platforms and investors may need to consider to maintain labour standards.

New reports & publications

Rainforest Alliance Field Study 2021: Kenyan Tea Summary report
During 2021 we conducted extensive field level research on social and economic issues within the Kenyan tea sector. This report summarises the key findings and challenges, focusing on employment conditions, discrimination, housing, health, grievance mechanisms and the transition to mechanised harvesting. The project was led by Brett Dodge and Kate Jelly.

Inclusive banking: Emerging Practices to Advance the Economic Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities
This report, developed for IFC, explores the business case for supporting disability inclusion in the banking sector, drawing on emerging practices from 12 leading international banks and financial institutions. This is the second report on inclusive banking developed by Ergon for the IFC. The first, focusing on how banks support the economic inclusion of LGBTI people, was published earlier in 2022. Sam Kelly, Jans Mynbayeva and Kirsten Newitt co-ordinated this project.

Join the Ergon Team!

Ergon is growing as we experience ongoing high demand for our services in the field of business and human rights, gender and labour standards. We are looking for highly motivated Consultants and Researchers to join our team. Consultants should have 3 years technical and professional experience within a consulting environment. The Researcher role is an entry-level position.

Both positions provide an opportunity to progress through developing consultancy skills and technical knowledge, and to contribute your own ideas within a dynamic and supportive environment. See more information here.

Selected current and recent projects

Human rights impact assessments
Understanding social risks and impacts through the lens of a broad human rights impact assessment (HRIA) is a trend that is gathering pace and we are seeing demand from a range of different sectors. We are in the process of conducting HRIAs on biofuel projects in countries in East and Central Africa. These involve analysis of baseline social conditions, stakeholder and rightsholder engagement at national and field level conducted by local specialists, identification of salient impacts and development of client-specific mitigation and remediation actions. Contact Stuart Bell or Steve Gibbons for more information. We are also about to complete HRIAs in several food and beverage supply chains (the coffee sector in Brazil and Peru, and chickpeas from Argentina). We will be starting new HRIAs on the Indian shrimp sector, South African wine and cocoa from West Africa over the next few months. Contact Stuart Bell or Brett Dodge for more.

Support for World Bank borrowers
Ergon is currently working with the World Bank to support capacity-building on the Bank’s Environmental and Social Standards on Labour and Working Conditions (ESS2) for borrowers in the Middle East and North Africa region. This engagement has focused initially on Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza, in particular seeking to provide information on labour law and implementation challenges and support broad stakeholder engagement on these issues. Ergon has trained staff from project implementation units of Bank-financed projects in Jordan and the West Bank and Gaza. Jans Mynbayeva and Zachary Dexter have been working on this project.

FMO agri-food and energy
Since the start of 2022, Ergon has been working with Dutch development bank FMO on an applied research assignment: ‘Decent Work in FMO Investments in Agri-food and Energy’. Through sector research and case study development, we have been looking at labour risks and opportunities to promote decent work in these sectors, as well as the business case for firms to invest in decent jobs. Alastair Usher is leading this work, supported by Marcella Klinker.

Qatar training for ILO
Qatari labour law provides for the creation of ‘joint committees’ involving worker and management representatives. We have recently completed training for committee representatives on the development and implementation of grievance procedures. Training was provided to representatives from a variety of sectors (including hospitality, transportation, and security) and focused on the practical aspects of grievance policies and grievance handling. Macduy Ngo led the training.

FIFA Human Rights Strategy and games-time complaint mechanism
We are supporting FIFA to develop a Human Rights Strategy for 2023-25. We will be working closely with the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Team to identify what steps can be taken in the coming years to promote a greater respect of human rights across the world of football. We will also be acting as an independent resource in the build up to, and during the FIFA Men’s World Cup in Qatar later this year, helping support the effective management of the tournament’s human rights complaint mechanism. Matt Waller is leading this work.

Strategic human rights support
We have worked with a number of significant international companies over recent months to support the development of multi-year human rights approaches, including assessment of salient human rights issues and development of prioritised human rights action plans. We see this as a significant growing work stream. The work involves talking to a range of internal and external stakeholders, including at senior levels of the business, to understand both impacts on rightsholders, but also to define practical and achievable responses. Contact Steve Gibbons for more information.

Ergon has a seventeen year track record of working on human rights, gender and labour issues. Please get in touch with any questions or feedback, and, of course, if you would like to discuss how we can support your organisation.