Unfortunately, today I come with a more depressing topic than what we’re used to in Digital Transformation. We’ve spoken a lot in this class how technology can be a force of good for corporations and consumers, but it can also be used to help those in the supply chain. Around the world there are still very serious exploitations of labor throughout the supply chain. I’m sure everyone remembers hearing about Nike’s or some other corporations’ overseas sweatshops from years ago. Unfortunately, these are still very present in our global society despite not hearing about them every day. This includes child labor, forced labor, and forced child labor. Global estimates from the International Labor Organization (ILO) indicate that there are 160 million children in child labor and roughly half of them in hazardous conditions.
Child laborers are found carrying heavy loads on farms, scavenging in garbage dumps, enduring physical, emotional, and verbal abuse as domestic servants, and fighting as child soldiers in armed conflict.
The ILO also estimates 25 million people are trapped in forced labor, including over 4 million children. Children and adults are forced to climb into mineshafts in search of diamonds and gold, confined on fishing vessels by deceitful labor recruiters, and trapped in bonded labor while toiling in the extreme heat of brick kilns. With efforts from governments, workers, and employers, there has been a decline of 86 million child laborers since the year 2000, but that still isn’t enough.
Sweat and Toil
That is why the US Department of Labor have created Sweat & Toil: Child labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking Around the World. Not the catchiest of names, but it is an app that is a comprehensive resource documenting child labor and forced labor worldwide. It uses data and research from Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor; List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor; and List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor. This app fits these three information-packed reports the size of a phone book in the palm of your hand. Six things you can do with this app are:
- Check countries’ efforts to eliminate child labor
- Find child labor data;
- Browse goods produced with child labor or forced labor;
- Review laws and ratifications;
- See what governments can to do end child labor; and
- Browse USDOL’s projects to combat child labor and forced labor.
This app can be a starting point for many consumers to empower themselves with knowledge about child labor or forced labor around the world. It is a great example of how compounding great amount of data and research on a very complicated issue into a single app can make it much more accessible for the common person. Keeping the users and consumers more aware and allowing change to happen better than any infographic or YouTube video can.
This isn’t just a people issue either, this has very real effects on companies as well. Child and forced labor in supply chains present serious and material risks to companies and industries. That is why the US Department of Labor has also created Comply Chain: Business Tools for Labor Compliance in Global Supply Chains. Once again, not the greatest of names for an app. But it does a great job illustrating the content involved.
This App targets companies and industry groups seeking to develop robust social compliance systems for their global production. This app is great for companies that do not have a social compliance system set up or are wanting to strengthen their existing system. Comply Chain provides a step-by-step guide on critical elements of social compliance for all companies.
A solid social compliance company includes:
- Engaging stakeholders and partners
- Assessing risks and impacts
- Developing a code of conduct
- Communicating and training across the supply chain
- Monitoring compliance
- Remediating violations
- Independent review
- Reporting performance and engagement
These eight areas are all broken down and have many examples of specific good practices that are already being used by different companies, industry groups, and multi-stakeholder initiatives.
These two apps are great examples that I’ve been able to find that benefit both companies and the humans that work in their supply chains. I want to know if there are any other apps or good resources that the rest of you know that can be used to best help people, whether it’s forced labor or some other harm, that any of you might know!
Here is a link to find out more about Sweat and Toil and Comply Chain: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/apps