Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update May 2021

Recent blogs

Challenging gender inequality
The Covid pandemic has exposed and exacerbated many existing inequalities, not the least of which has been the differential impact on women. In this blog, Kate Jelly looks at some of the ways in which the private sector can challenge gender bias and inequality – during the pandemic, the recovery phase and beyond.

Recent publications

Economic inclusion of people with disabilities and older workers
Across the world, people with disabilities and older workers face a wide range of barriers to economic inclusion – challenges in accessing employment and skills opportunities, finance and entrepreneurship, and key services that enhance economic participation (such as banking, transport, or internet). The Covid-19 crisis has enlarged and entrenched the multiple participation barriers that both groups face. In this context, Ergon has been working closely with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to provide new resources to support the Bank, its clients, and policymakers to assess and develop inclusive policy responses. The project outputs – two research reports (disability and older workers), statistical indicators, 10 country briefs, and a collection of international best practices – are freely available here.

Human Rights Impact Assessments
Lidl GB has published a human rights impact assessment (HRIA) on tea from Kenya, based on work we conducted in 2020. The Kenyan tea supply chain was selected following a scoping process, which considered Lidl’s annual risk assessment findings as well as additional factors, including: purchasing volumes; origin country importance; supplier relationships and tender process sequencing. The HRIA followed Ergon’s established methodology involving baseline development, in-country stakeholder engagement, impact analysis and remediation action planning. The summary and full report are available here.
We are currently working on seven other supply chain HRIAs for supermarkets, as well as a programme of country-specific HRIAs in the energy sector.

Briefings for Workplace committees in Qatar
For the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) project office in Qatar, we supported the development of practical training materials on workplace joint committees. Workplace committees involving worker and management representatives may be established in certain cases under Qatari labour law, and these committees can address a range of workplace topics. To support the functioning of these committees, we developed a series of brief guides on topics that might be addressed by committees, including occupational health and safety, productivity, training opportunities, and employer-provided social services.

Selected current projects

The Bahamas: Decent Work Country Programme
Following our work last year to support the development of a Country Diagnostic report, Ergon has continued to work closely with the ILO’s Office for the Caribbean (ROC) and The Bahamas National Tripartite Council (NTC) to prepare the next Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) for The Bahamas. The full draft of this second-generation DWCP was completed in April and we anticipate its formal adoption later this year.

Supply chain risk assessments
We have recently completed a global supply chain risk assessment for a major UK supermarket, covering 30 products and ingredients. These were assessed for human rights and sustainability risks, leading to a short-list of 15 ingredients with the most salient risks and which were most relevant to the client. We then worked with the client to develop a matrix of mitigation actions suited to the level of risk and taking account of existing mitigation strategies and business priorities.

IPIECA and Building Responsibly: online learning
We have been working closely with IPIECA and Building Responsibly to develop an online training programme on labour rights for their members. The training aims to improve member companies’ awareness and management of a variety of labour rights issues at an operational level and across company value chains. The training modules will be launched in the coming months.

Online learning on social risk, including in conflict
We have delivered a basic and advanced course for CDC and its clients looking at how to identify and manage social risks. The basic programme was delivered on the basis of participants learning at their own pace, with the advanced course being built around assessed course work and live interactive webinars.

Supporting renewable energy and gender equality in Kazakhstan
Since mid-2020, Ergon has been working in partnership with EY Kazakhstan to deliver the EBRD’s programme to promote economic opportunities for women in the renewable energy sector in Kazakhstan. As part of this work, Ergon has carried out a detailed study and skills mismatch analysis for the sector to identify key barriers and opportunities for women (and men) in renewable energy. Based on our analyses, we presented recommendations for ongoing policy and technical cooperation activities at a high-level policy workshop for government, industry representatives, and donors in April. We will continue to work with project partners on implementation through 2021-2022.

Due diligence in the finance sector
We continue to work with a range of finance sector clients to support their due diligence exercises on new investments. As the challenging global situation continues, we are continuing to seek interactive and remote ways of gathering information from companies, workers and communities.

New people

We are delighted to welcome Genevieve Auld as a Researcher. Genevieve is a qualified lawyer. Before Ergon, she worked as a solicitor and researcher specialising in labour and employment law with the Australian government, a trade union, an NGO representing migrant workers, and a commercial law firm. She has also completed a consultancy with the ILO working with the Gender, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Branch and a judicial clerkship at the Federal Court of Australia. She holds degrees in Law with First Class Honours and Arts (French/Politics) from the Australian National University, and a LLM from the University of Chicago Law School specialising in migration, labour and economic development.