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A Toolkit for Responsible Businesses
Child working as a stonemason

What Topics Should Training and Capacity-Building Cover?

The following are key training topics for each training audience.

  • All Audiences
    • The standards included in your code of conduct (Note: this portion of the training should be thorough and comprehensive. Each standard should be explained in detail. For example, a full explanation of child labor should be provided, with examples of what is and is not considered child labor);
    • A comprehensive overview of your social compliance system, showing all of its components and how they fit together, to help everyone understand their part in the system;
    • Your expectations for each component of the system, who is responsible for which components and how you hold them accountable;
    • What to expect from an audit, and how audit data are independently verified;
    • The company’s remediation policies and procedures;
    • Workplace values, including mutual respect and honesty;
    • The company’s public reporting; and
    • Opportunities for input, including grievance mechanisms.
  • Your Company’s Social Compliance Team
  • Intensive training in all aspects of the system. Ongoing training for this team could include use of the social compliance information system and benchmarking against other companies and initiatives.

  • Your Company’s Product Development/ Sourcing Departments
  • Training in the types of data the social compliance team gathers, and how to use that data in making product development and sourcing decisions, as well as ongoing information regarding the social compliance performance of suppliers.  It is critical to discuss with your company’s product developers and buyers the impact of their practices and decisions on social compliance.  Ideally, the performance evaluations and incentive structures of these teams should be informed by the degree to which they make use of social compliance data.  Buy-in and participation from the highest levels of the company may be necessary in these discussions.

  • Your Company's Other Employees
  • Communication via newsletters, e-mails, annual reports, annual meetings or other means to ensure that all employees are aware of the company’s commitment to social compliance.  Another approach that has been used is an incentive or award system that rewards top performers in social responsibility.

  • Your Vendors/Agents (If Applicable)
  • Contractual requirements to which the vendor or agent is held.  Typically a vendor/agent should be required to sign a commitment to comply with the code of conduct, which should be incorporated into the contract.  The contract should also specify all activities that the vendor/agent must undertake as part of the system, such as guaranteeing auditors and verification organizations unrestricted access into production facilities. If your company has fairly stable relationships with vendors/agents, you may adopt a social compliance system model that delegates significant responsibility for supplier/producer social compliance to the vendor/agent.  In this case, your contract may also require the vendor/agent to:

    • Ensure compliance of first-tier suppliers with the code of conduct;
    • Provide training to first-tier suppliers;
    • Conduct “self-auditing” of first-tier suppliers;
    • Draft, implement and/or follow up on Corrective Action Plans;
    • Track and report on supplier social compliance performance; and
    • Limit the number of subcontractors and/or disclose subcontractors at specified tier(s) of supply chains.
    • Incentives offered to the vendor/agent for good social compliance performance.
  • Your Suppliers: Management
  • The contractual requirements to which suppliers are held, if your company contracts directly with suppliers.  The supplier should be required to sign a commitment to comply with the code of conduct, which should be incorporated into the contract.  The contract should also specify all activities that the supplier must undertake as part of the system, such as allowing auditors and verification organizations unrestricted access to production facilities.  If your company has fairly stable relationships with suppliers, you may adopt a social compliance system model that delegates significant responsibility for social compliance to the supplier. In this case, your contract may also require the supplier to:

    • Train supervisors, workers and other groups in social compliance;
    • Conduct some “self-auditing”;
    • Draft, implement and/or follow up on Corrective Action Plans;
    • Track and report on social compliance performance;
    • Limit number of subcontractors and/or disclose subcontractors at specified tier(s) of supply chains; and
    • Ensure social compliance of its subcontractors and at specified tiers of the supply chain.
  • Your Suppliers: Supervisors
    • Proper use of authority;
    • Communication skills to motivate workers and communicate accomplishments, needs, skills and talents of workers to management;
    • Team building skills; and
    • “Red flags” to identify child labor, forced labor and trafficking.
  • Your Suppliers: Human Resources Staff
    • Computation of wages, including piece rates, overtime, bonuses and legal, permitted deductions;
    • Policies to ensure timely, accurate payment of wages;
    • Appropriate age-verification documentation;
    • Policies on appropriate treatment of children identified at worksites;
    • Policies and procedures for worker recruitment and hiring;
    • Procedures to ensure that all workers have contracts that clearly stipulate their employment terms, in language they understand, and that any changes to contracts are made with the informed written consent of workers;
    • Mechanisms through which workers can submit any grievances, including those related to harassment, threats or intimidation;
    • Appropriate record-keeping skills;
    • Specific policies and procedures for migrant workers, including mechanisms to ensure that migrant workers are not charged fees by brokers/agents, are not required to post deposits, receive employment terms and conditions equal to those of non-migrants, and have ready access to their identity documents and a safe place to store them; and
    • Use of the social compliance information system, as appropriate.
  • Your Suppliers Beyond the First Tier
  • To the extent possible, your training and capacity-building programs should extend to suppliers beyond the first tier.  Once your risk assessment has identified the areas of your supply chains at greatest risk of child labor, forced labor and other labor abuses, you should have an idea of those suppliers, at all tiers, in most need of training. The training materials you have developed for first-tier suppliers can be adapted for other levels of the supply chain.  As noted, you may also require that vendors/agents or suppliers provide this training.  Note that some companies achieve efficiencies by bringing together multiple suppliers—for instance, all suppliers operating in the same country or geographic region—to be trained together.

  • Workers and Trade Unions
    • Responsibilities in the workplace;
    • Additional workplace rights not covered in the core training content, such as rights under local law concerning freedom of employment, wage deductions, etc.;
    • Proper procedures for recording hours of work;
    • Understanding pay slips, calculating wages and deductions;
    • “Red flags” to identify child labor, forced  labor, and trafficking;
    • Computation of wages, including piece rates, overtime, bonuses and legal, permitted deductions;
    • Policies to ensure timely and accurate payment of wages;
    • Appropriate age-verification documentation;
    • Policies on appropriate treatment of children identified at worksites;
    • Policies and procedures for worker recruitment and hiring;
    • Procedures to ensure that all workers have contracts that clearly stipulate their employment terms, in language they understand, and that any changes to contracts are made with the informed written consent of workers;
    • Mechanisms through which workers can submit any grievance, including harassment, threats or intimidation; and.
    • Specific policies and procedures for migrant workers, including mechanisms to ensure that migrant workers are not charged fees by brokers/agents, are not required to post deposits, receive employment terms and conditions equal to those of non-migrants, and have ready access to their identity documents and a safe place to store them.

It is important to note that in some industries, particularly agriculture, some workers may not be literate.  Starbucks’ code of conduct for coffee, known as the CAFÉ Practices, includes a requirement that all workers who are illiterate be informed of their rights under the code verbally.

Example In Action

Adidas Training for Management and Human Resources Personnel in Supply Chains

In 2006, Adidas started its Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) training program in the Asia Pacific region, especially in China and Vietnam.  The trainings cover hiring, compensation and benefits, training and development, performance management and human resource planning, and are designed primarily for suppliers’ managerial staff. The company initiated this program after discovering through audits that most of its factories in this region did not have basic HR systems in place.  In addition, Adidas evaluated the trainings on freedom of association and industrial relations to bring them more in line with the Fair Labor Association’s Sustainable Compliance Initiative monitoring tool.  In October 2010, Adidas started a new Occupational Health and Safety Officer program and in 2011 presented the course to over 500 trainees in six Asia Pacific countries.

For more information, see the Adidas website.

Example In Action

Ford Motor Company Aligned Business Framework

Ford has identified key strategic suppliers that are part of its Aligned Business Framework (ABF).  These ABF suppliers must ensure compliance with Ford’s Code of Basic Working Conditions in their own operations and in their supply chains.  In exchange for this and other commitments, Ford makes a series of commitments back to suppliers, including long-term sourcing and sharing of forecast volumes and product plans.  Ford provides extensive training to ABF suppliers to help them achieve compliance.

Learn more about Ford’s ABF program.