Samarbeten för ökad jämställdhet i produktionsledet2020.03.06
Jag får ofta frågan från våra kunder om hur vi arbetar för jämställdhet i våra produktionsländer? Vi som ett av världens största företag har ett stort ansvar att driva jämställdhetsfrågan och arbeta för kvinnors rättigheter och möjligheter, både bland våra anställda och våra leverantörer.
Photo credit: IFC/Abir Abdullah
Inom H&M idag så är 7 av 10 ledare kvinnor, vilket speglar den totala andelen kvinnor inom organisationen. Det är något vi är stolta över, men vi vill inte att så bara ska vara fallet i vårt egna led utan även i produktionsledet. Jämställdhet har sedan många år varit en viktig del av vårt sociala arbete och vår strategi för rättvisa arbeten för alla textilarbetare. Vi har genom program som fokuserar på bland annat lika lönevillkor och demokratiskt valda arbetarrepresentanter satt en stabil grund för detta arbete.
För att vi på ett hållbart och framgångsrikt sätt ska kunna driva jämställdhetsfrågan i vårt produktionsled så tror jag att samarbete är nyckeln till framgång. Därför vill jag dela med mig av ett av våra initiativ som jag fick ta del av när jag besökte vårt produktionskontor i Bangladesh, nämligen Better Works projekt GEAR (Gender Equality and Returns). Nedan kan du ta del av en intervju med Anne- Laure Henry-Gréard, Programme Manager of Better Work Bangladesh samt se en kort video om projektet.
Who is Better Works and what do you do?
Better Work is a global partnership between the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to improve working conditions, labour standards and thereby boost competitiveness of garment factories. The approach combines advisory services, assessments and training to deliver continues improvements in affiliated factories. Better Work also collaborates with Governments, employers, workers and international buyers to ensure the progress is relevant and sustained. Currently, the programme works with 40 brands and 1,700 factories employing more than 2.4 million workers in eight countries.
What are the challenges when it comes to gender equality in Bangladesh (textile industry)?
Since the early 1980s, the readymade garment (RMG) industry in Bangladesh has provided large-scale employment opportunities to women in Bangladesh and put more women to work than any other sector. Today Bangladesh has a $34 billion textile and apparel industry, ultimately the engine of the country’s economic growth.
However, gender equality and women thriving in the workplace without facing any discrimination remains a key unresolved issue in the sector that generates more than 84% of the country’s export income.
A study suggests that more than 19 of every 20 line-supervisors are men despite 80% of line workers being women. This means 95% of the supervisory talent on the sewing lines comes from just 20% of the workforce. This often leads to a lack of confidence among the female workforce, making them doubt their abilities and which eventually kills their hopes and dreams.
“We [female workers] go to the same production floor, have the same colleagues and chase the same production target, but lack of confidence stops us from embracing new opportunities and get more of what we truly want,” Samsun Nahar, Quality Inspector at ‘That’s It Sports Wear Ltd’, said.
What is GEAR and is any supplier that H&M uses part of this program?
Gender Equality and Returns (GEAR) is a special initiative of Better Work Bangladesh to promote career progression opportunities for women workers in the garment sector. GEAR offers female workers a 10-day training on the soft and technical skills to become supervisors. After completing the course, the trainees spend 6-8 weeks working on a production line as trainee supervisors so that they can eventually take on supervisory roles.
As part of H&M’s commitment to creating better conditions for garment workers, equal opportunities for women, while boosting performance, H&M and 13 of their supplier factories have joined the GEAR initiative to further encourage and promote gender equality on the production floor.
Why is important that programs such as GEAR are scaled up?
The outcomes of GEAR pilot phase (Nov 2016 to Dec 2017) made it clear that the program has the potential to overturn the industry’s gender blind spots and in turn benefit both the female workers and the factories employ them.
In the initial phase, GEAR trained 144 female workers, 58 of whom became supervisors. Impact assessment carried out by the University of Oxford showed that lines led by GEAR-trained females experienced an average increase of 5 per cent in efficiency.
The GEAR-promoted female supervisors also saw – on average – a 39 per cent increase in salary. In addition, the average percentage of female supervisors increased from 7% to 15% in 28 participating factories. This leads to other benefits such as reduced absenteeism, lower defect rates, etc.
After the successful pilot, ILO and IFC started to scale up GEAR from March 2019 to train 700 female operators and their managers in 70 factories. By the end of October 2019, 106 female operators from 12 factories completed the training program. As of February 2020, 79 of the GEAR-trained female operators were promoted to supervisors.
“The biggest lesson learned from the GEAR pilot phase is probably the fact that scarcity of women in supervisory roles is a wasted opportunity. But there is now a greater understanding within the textile industry that all else being equal, ignoring the potential of the majority of the workforce will only weaken the long-term growth potential of the industry,” said Anne-Laure Henry-Gréard, Programme Manager of Better Work Bangladesh.
//Felicia Reuterswärd, Hållbarhetsansvarig H&M Sverige