Direct Worker Voice: First 100 days of feedback from supply chain workers

Earlier this year Sedex and &Wider launched a service to gather feedback directly and anonymously from workers in supply chains. We are now 100 days in to Direct Working Reporting – what are Sedex members hoping to gain from the tool?

Direct, honest feedback from workers is essential to understanding working conditions. Workers’ accounts help businesses build a true picture of workers’ everyday experiences, providing another source of information for companies assessing their own businesses, their supply chains and their suppliers.

The Direct Worker Reporting tool allows businesses to gather this feedback at scale, using a mobile-based survey format to protect workers’ anonymity and collect insights remotely. The survey asks about working conditions, workers’ wellbeing and livelihood, operations and processes.

The tool can be used on its own or as part of a wider responsibility programme. It can be used by businesses to listen to their own workers, or to gain insight into conditions for those in their supply chain.


The first 100 days of Direct Worker Reporting

What are the benefits of Direct Worker Reporting?

For suppliers, these insights create a listening channel between workers and management. Managers receive direct feedback from workers that helps them to understand workers’ general wellbeing, where workers are or are not feeling supported, and what pressures are being felt.

This is particularly useful when suppliers are seeking to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Direct Worker Reporting COVID-19 Survey (one of two surveys available) provides insight into how the virus has affected working conditions, livelihoods and the wellbeing of workers. It allows suppliers to better understand how to support their workers, and to monitor changes in how workers are feeling.

For buyer businesses, this feedback offers direct insight into working conditions and worker wellbeing in their supply chain. The insight helps buyers to learn about common priorities identified by workers across sites in a particular region or set of suppliers, and measure changes over time.

Direct Worker Reporting can be used to support other assessment efforts, such as social audits and risk assessment to gather workers’ perspectives on issues and operational practices. The tool can also support remote or virtual assessments where in-person audits cannot take place. This helps buyer companies to maintain an oversight of labour practices in global supply chains – even during times of rapid change.


Buyer perspective: Co-Op

“We know that COVID-19 has significantly impacted the ability to engage directly with workers on-the-ground. That’s why we’re working closely with suppliers to trial the use of Direct Work Reporting over multiple call cycles to gather worker feedback.

“We are hoping to gain insights from workers on working conditions, enabling us to identify areas where improvement is required and work with suppliers to put measures in place to ensure positive change to labour standards.”


Buyer perspective: Sainsbury’s

“Ideally Direct Worker Reporting can be used to measure the effectiveness of efforts taken by suppliers. We recognize that worker interviews, in the audit context, are really the only way we get insight from workers, so we want another way to access their feedback and have an ongoing barometer of feedback.

“Ultimately, this is all about trust – suppliers trusting that we aren’t going to overreact if the outcome isn’t positive and will work with them to remediate issues. We want to encourage suppliers to see the power of worker voice.”

Stephanie Velez, Sustainable Sourcing Manager


Supplier perspective: Surexport

“Our human resource strategy is based on providing our employees with the best experience while they are working in our company. We want to keep improving workers’ welfare – we thought Direct Worker Reporting was the best way to get truthful worker feedback.

“This was such an easy and quick process – we saw 100% employee participation in the first round of calls. We received detailed analysis on positive and negative feedback, which makes it clear where we should step forward on our worker welfare. The results show us that we are on the right path and taking proper care of our employees.

“We are glad to be member of this project and work with Sedex and &Wider in collaboration! I think this is a wonderful tool to measure workers’ welfare, which is really necessary for helping us to achieve our best results for our customers.”


Learn more about Direct Worker Reporting and watch this space for the latest insight from Sedex tools.

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