Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update: September 2018

Recent blogs

The business case for employer-supported childcare
Kirsten Newitt sets out the key messages from an IFC flagship report to which Ergon contributed. The blog describes the varied reasons employers can have for supporting childcare as well as the different means by which this can be achieved.

Broadening the understanding of human rights risks: working with the M&S property team
We’ve recently been working with the M&S Property and Retail teams (who are responsible for maintaining and operating stores) to identify key human rights and modern slavery risk issues and action points. To our knowledge, this makes M&S one of the first major companies to have extended its human rights risk assessment and overall due diligence processes in a concerted way to these business functions and to publicly report on it. Stuart Bell explains more here.

Events and training

How to conduct human rights due diligence
The autumn cycle of ETI’s highly-regarded human rights due diligence training will start soon. Developed and delivered by Ergon, this three-day professional development programme is a practical, interactive way to develop the skills and knowledge needed to identify, understand and act on human rights risks in company operations and supply chains. The course dates are: 27th September,  30th  October, 22nd November. There is also a programme starting in February 2019. If you are not an ETI member, you can receive a 15% discount on the full price if you quote the code ERGON when you book.

Business and  human rights training Ethiopia, Ghana and Tunisia
Through September and October we are delivering in-country trainings on social sustainability and rights in Ethiopia, Ghana and Tunisia for the German Global Compact Network. The work comes in the wake of the German National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights. The trainings are aimed at local operations of  German companies and their suppliers. This workstream is led by Laura Curtze. Additional information is available here.

Decent jobs and development
This month Alastair Usher is delivering training for investment officers at IFU – the Danish Investment Fund for Developing Countries – focusing on how to work with equity investments in developing and emerging economies to support the creation and development of decent jobs.

New publications

Modern Slavery Good Practice Guide

In collaboration with the ETI, Ergon has authored a draft Good Practice Note on Managing Risks Associated with Modern Slavery for a consortium of IFC, CDC Group, EBRD and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The publication aims to be a practical guide for investors, companies, and financial institutions to explain the concept of modern slavery in the private sector context, provide guidance on identifying risks, and describe relevant mitigation, monitoring, and remediation strategies.

Selected current projects

Core labour standards and working conditions in EU trade partner countries
We are completing the first phase of our major multi-year and multi-country research project for the European Commission conducting surveys on the application of core labour standards and working conditions in 29 countries. We have drafted baseline analyses and are moving into a more extensive stakeholder engagement phase. The countries included in the research are covered by commitments to labour standards in GSP+ and Free Trade and Investment Agreements with the EU. The project is commissioned by the  Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (DG EMPL) and is financed under the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation. For more information on the project, contact Alastair Usher.

Women’s employment in the energy sector in Kazakhstan
We are working on a project for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development with Samruk-Energy, one of the leading energy companies in Kazakhstan, to strengthen the promotion of equal opportunity in its operations. In June, Kirsten Newitt led a mission to Samruk-Energy’s head office in Astana and subsidiary companies in Almaty, to share international best practices in the energy sector and carry out a gender diagnostic for the project.

Promoting quality jobs for women workers in the garment sector in Vietnam
We recently carried out a gender assessment of a garment company in Vietnam for a development finance institution, leading to tailored recommendations to support women’s employment. The assessment involved in-depth analysis of gender-disaggregated workforce data, review of HR policies and procedures, and a site visit to conduct management interviews and focus group discussions with workers and supervisors.

Supporting labour assessments
We have been supporting on-site labour assessments for various clients in situations where local social auditors do not have adequate labour specialism, specifically in relation to construction in Turkey and manufacturing in Nigeria. This work has included background project analysis, legal gap analysis, briefing auditors on key issues and support on interpreting compliance findings and making recommendations on sustainable actions.

Sharing learning

Steve Gibbons had a busy June. He facilitated a session at the OECD Global Forum for Responsible Business Conduct on the role of National Contact Points in promoting social dialogue. The same month he gave evidence to the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Sport and Human Rights sharing our experiences working on the independent human rights report for the United Bid. He also ran a session on the Employer Pays Principle at the Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment in Singapore hosted by the Institute for Human Rights and Business and Consumer Goods Forum, with partners Humanity United.

In July in New York, Anne-Marie Levesque facilitated discussions on human rights and agriculture as part of a joint event we held with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Speakers included Citi, PepsiCo, the US Department of Labor (USDoL) and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement department (ICE).

Staff and recruitment

We are pleased to welcome Mattias Carlson as the latest addition to our London team. Mattias was most recently with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Vietnam and Cambodia, focusing on labour migration and skills development, corporate responsibility and modern slavery. He holds a MSc. in International Development and Management from Lund University, and a BA in Global Studies from the University of Gothenburg.

We are also hiring new Researchers based either in London or the Amsterdam area. Closing date 14th September. See details here.