Posted by Stuart Bell

Ergon Update September 2019

Welcome to our regular round-up of Ergon’s recent activities and prospective projects. It’s been a busier-than-usual Summer across all aspects of our work – from sport and human rights to DFIs and sustainability standards. We’ve also embarked on several exciting new projects including in the areas of good practice on recruitment fees, working conditions for migrants, the job impact of private equity and assessing labour risks associated with various agricultural commodities. More details on these next time. To discuss how we can assist your organisation or to learn more about our work, please drop us a line.
Human rights due diligence – professional development programme

We will be leading a new round of immersive trainings on human rights due diligence for ETI, starting on October 24-25th in London. Fully revised and updated, this two-day professional-development programme is a practical, interactive way to develop the professional skills and knowledge needed to identify, understand and act on human rights risks. The face-to-face sessions are based on engaging discussion, group work exercises, real life examples and focused information sessions. More details are here.

Recent blogs

Human rights due diligence: rethinking approaches to dissent
Aurélie Duchesne suggests ways of strengthening stakeholder engagement during human rights due diligence.

Human rights due diligence: time for (climate) change?
Kate Jelly sets out how adopting a climate change lens can affect human rights due diligence.

ILO passes new Convention on violence and harassment at work
Estefania Murray takes a closer look at the scope of new Convention 190 and what needs to happen next in terms of implementation.

(En)gendering human rights due diligence: a ‘transformative’ UNGPs framework
Anya Marcelis and Aurélie Duchesne consider the recent guidance from the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights ‘Gender dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’.

Dutch take the lead on child labour with new due diligence law
The latest piece of business and human rights transparency legislation has been passed in the Netherland. Anya Marcelis summarises its scope.

Caster Semenya is a reminder that we need more human rights in sport
From locker rooms to board rooms the language of human rights is increasingly embedding itself into the sporting landscape. Macduy Ngo looks at the implications of the Caster Semanya case.

Ethical, Fair, Responsible, Dignified… recruitment
Increased awareness of the vulnerabilities of migrant workers has produced a host of initiatives mostly focused on reducing recruitment fees. Mattias Carlson reviews the main interventions and programmes.


Good practice note on managing modern slavery risks
We are delighted that our good practice note on managing modern slavery risks, produced in conjunction with the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) has been shortlisted for ESG Research Report of the Year by the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

Development finance and sustainable development 
Ergon’s research on decent work and development finance was recently featured in a collection of essays put together by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) on the “Impact of development finance institutions on sustainable development”. Our essay was based on research we carried out for FMO on behalf of the Association of European DFIs in 2018. The essays are here, the full DFI report is here.

Speaking and facilitating events

Matt Waller has recently returned from Commonwealth Sport’s General Assembly (CGA) in Kigali where there was an entire day dedicated to the topic of human rights. Matt’s participation included running an interactive session to feed into the development of Commonwealth Sport’s Human Rights Strategy. This was followed by a consultation with CGAs on guidance that Ergon are developing on behalf of the Centre for Sports and Human Rights on the integration of human rights into national multi-sports bodies’ day to day operations.

Steve Gibbons spoke at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Sport, Modern Slavery and Human Rights in July 2019, where he provided evidence of Premier League clubs’ compliance with the reporting requirements of the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Also in July, Kirsten Newitt made a presentation on international good practices and directions on gender equality at Co-op’s gender strategy workshop, attended by members of Co-op’s ethical trade team, as well as NGO partners and other experts.

The Ergon Netherlands office has been working closely with Dutch development bank FMO on developing and implementing a human rights programme to build the capacity of in-house environmental and social specialists through a series of training, coaching and mentoring activities. This work is being led by Alastair Usher, supported by Anya Marcelis. In September 2019, Alastair facilitated discussions at FMO’s multi-stakeholder Human Rights Day at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Current and recent projects
Human rights supply chain risk assessments
We are currently conducting global human rights supply chain risk assessments in the fashion, cosmetics and oil and gas sectors. These assessments use our global human rights risk indices (covering 250 countries) and are focused on either key materials and their sourcing countries or the full range of business activities and service providers. Outputs include country and product risk rankings with identification of risk drivers. Contact Stuart Bell or Brett Dodge for more details.

Labour assessment in Kenya
In June, we conducted an in-depth labour assessment at a food manufacturing facility in Kenya, on behalf of a DFI client.  In co-operation with management, and in the context of a programme of outsourcing, the assessment was undertaken over three sites and involved detailed discussions with managers, contractors and workers as well as standard analysis of records.


Women’s empowerment projects in the Kazakhstan energy sector
Kirsten Newitt will be presenting the preliminary results from a major company survey carried on behalf of EBRD and KAZENERGY on women in the energy sector in Kazakhstan at Kazakhstan Energy Week on 25 September in Nur-Sultan. The survey covers 37 major energy companies in Kazakhstan to produce a more detailed understanding of the profile of women in the sector. The Women in Energy event will also feature contributions from leading energy companies with operations in Kazakhstan, including Shell, Chevron, Embamunaigas, KPO, and Samruk-Energy.

EBRD / Samruk-Energy: At the end of September, Ergon will be visiting Samruk-Energy, one of Kazakhstan’s leading energy companies, as part of its technical support to the company on behalf of EBRD. Samruk-Energy has launched a number of new initiatives as a result of the project, including signature of the Women’s Empowerment Principles in March 2019, adoption of new targets on women in management and the workforce, and a pilot programme on outreach to schools, TVET colleges and universities to raise awareness of career opportunities for women in the energy sector.


IFC Vietnam – The business case for employer supported child and elder care
In May-June, Ergon visited three garment and footwear factories in Vietnam to explore good practices on employer supported child care. This is part of Ergon’s ongoing work with IFC in Vietnam to explore the business case for companies to support their employees’ care responsibilities, with a focus on the manufacturing and finance sectors.