Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A year comes to an end, and we at Verité naturally ask ourselves two questions:

What did we do to further our vision of a world where people work under safe, fair, and legal conditions?
How did we fulfil our mission to provide the knowledge and tools to eliminate the most serious labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains?

While we are humbled by the great deal more we need to accomplish, we are proud of what we have been able to achieve this past year. In 2019, we built our capacity and expanded our reach to launch new tools, work in new sectors, address labor rights issues that included forced labor, child labor, gender discrimination, worker empowerment, and ethical recruitment, among others, and conduct field research in dozens of countries around the world.

And we are optimistic that we will be able to advance our work further in 2020, Verité’s 25th anniversary year.

We would like to thank all the governments, organizations, and companies we had the privilege of working with over the past twelve months. We wouldn’t be able to support our vision and realize our mission without your partnerships.

Please join us in a review of selected notable projects from 2019.

All the best,
The Verité Team

A Request

Verité’s ability to continue to share our knowledge and insights about how to effect change in global supply chains is directly dependent on tax-deductible donations and grants, so we respectfully request that you please donate to support Verité’s work and advance our vision in 2020.

A Selection of Our Notable Accomplishments in 2019

CUMULUS Forced Labor Screen™ Launched: An Innovative Tool for Prioritizing Forced Labor Due Diligence. Through CUMULUS, Verité provides credible analytical insights to companies and their supply chain partners, allowing them to better protect workers from labor abuses and build a marketplace for ethical recruitment. This past year, member companies from the electronics, apparel, footwear, and consumer goods sectors began mapping their labor supply chains and proactively screening for forced labor risks introduced by supply chain partners’ recruitment practices and recruitment agents. Common exposure among members to risky practices and recruitment agents is validated and shared across the platform in a confidential and redacted fashion. In 2020, the CUMULUS platform will be expanded to the construction and hospitality sectors.
 
Coffee Sector Project to Establish Compliance System to Improve Labor Conditions. The three-year Cooperation On Fair, Free, Equitable Employment (COFFEE) Project involves the creation of a robust compliance system and toolkit on improving labor conditions in the coffee sector, as well as trainings and guidance on implementation of the toolkit. The project includes three pilot experiences in Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico, during which selected tools and innovative practices will be implemented. The tools will build capacities for the coffee sector to effectively address labor risks and improve workers conditions from an ethical business perspective. In 2020, tested tools will be available for implementation not only in the three pilot countries, but throughout Latin America and the world.
 
More than 400 Workplaces Assessed Using Verité’s Audit Methodology. To ensure that our in-depth, practical approach to assessments brings real change to workplaces, Verité chooses to work with multinational corporations across countries and business sectors who have demonstrated a commitment to making lasting impact on the lives of workers. Our comprehensive, worker-centric approach to audits identifies risk in supply chains and offers practical recommendations to remedy problems and fight root causes.
 
Forced Labor Indicators Project (FLIP) in Ghana. Verité is implementing a U.S. Department of Labor-funded project focused on growing government, private sector, and civil society capacity to combat forced labor of adults and children through advancing the International Labor Organizations forced labor indicators approach in Ghana. The Forced Labor Indicators Project (FLIP) focuses on the gold, cocoa, and palm oil sectors with three main objectives: to develop a shared understanding of the precise nature of forced labor and trafficking in Ghana and how the forced labor indicator approach can be utilized in support of this understanding; to collaborate with stakeholders to support integrating the forced labor indicators approach into existing labor monitoring efforts; and to further capacitate the labor inspectorate and other key government actors in recognizing, documenting, and addressing forced labor and labor trafficking and the risk factors and indicators they encompass.
 
A New Auditor Training for Ethical Recruitment. The four-day intensive Verité Ethical Recruitment Auditor (VERA) Training tackles the challenges of investigating ethical recruitment abuses and includes an online context-setting knowledge module that unpacks the basics of forced labor, its root causes, & ethical recruitment standards.
 
Verité Research Points Way toward Genuine Engagement on Forced Labor Risk in Cocoa. Verité released a new research study this past February on the nature and indicators of forced labor and human trafficking for labor exploitation in the cocoa sector of Côte d’Ivoire, helping to frame the investigation and discussion of forced labor in that country with a structured, International Labour Organization (ILO) standards-based approach that helps to distinguish child labor and forced labor. The report was accompanied by a comprehensive set of actionable recommendations for government, industry, and civil society to address the problem through strategic, targeted programming.
 
Preventing Abuse in Recruitment Corridors to the Gulf States. We made progress establishing collaboration among stakeholders in newly emerging flows of low-wage labor from origin countries in East Africa and northern India. This approach recognizes that risks faced by foreign workers often can be traced back to root causes in the cross-border labor recruitment process. While implementing two concurrently running 3 1/2-year safe and fair migration projects supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Verité made progress establishing collaboration among stakeholders in newly emerging flows of low-wage labor from origin countries in East Africa and northern India. This approach recognizes that risks faced by foreign workers often can be traced back to root causes in the cross-border labor recruitment process.
 
Comprehensive Tools Help Food and Beverage Companies Combat Human Trafficking. Available at ResponsibleSourcingTool.org and created with support from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Verité published a set of free online tools designed to help food and beverage companies better identify, prevent, and address human trafficking or trafficking-related practices in their global supply chains.
 
Trainings led by Verité Experts Built Capacity to Conduct Effective Compliance. We trained hundreds of people from headquarters staff to auditors, supplier personnel, and civil society advocates in a wide range of courses, including in-depth trainings on worker-centered auditing and how to investigate and assess labor recruiters.
 
Research that Illuminated the True Costs and Real Experiences in Formal and Informal Migration to Thailand. Thailand receives a significant amount of attention for how migrants from neighboring countries arrive there, as well as for how they are treated. Verité did extensive interviews and desk and field research to map out how jobseekers in Cambodia, Myanmar, and Lao PDR learn about jobs in Thailand, weigh risk factors, and choose among the routes open to them, enabling policy makers, civil society groups, and businesses to recalibrate their efforts based on what is really happening in formal and informal migration routes.
 
Verité Partnered with the Financial Sector to Mobilize Against Slavery. We were honored to participate in the Liechtenstein Initiative for a Financial Sector Commission on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, a year-long global commission of financial sector and supply chain experts. At the United Nations (UN) this past September, the group released the ground-breaking report, “Unlocking Potential: A Blueprint for Mobilizing Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking.” The group will continue to push for action by investors, financiers, bankers, insurers, and other financial sector actors through the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) initiative.
 
Greater Enforcement of Child Labor Laws. Concluding this past summer, for over four years, Verité worked with the Ministries of Labor in five countries (Bukina Faso, Liberia, Nepal, Belize, and Panama) on the CLEAR II project (Country Level Engagement and Assistance to Reduce Child Labor) to create tools and training programs that would strengthen enforcement of child labor laws and lead to a meaningful reduction in the worst forms of child labor. Verité’s partners in the project included Winrock International and Lawyers Without Borders.
 
Verité’s Supply Chain Expertise in Policy Conversations
In many countries, the need for expert input into policymaking is greater than ever, as multiple regulatory approaches are being implemented or considered for global supply chain due diligence and transparency around the issues of forced labor, child labor, and a range of other human rights abuses and sustainability challenges. Civil society organizations with practical experience in the functioning of diverse supply chains and on-the-ground impacts of policy approaches have an important contribution to make to these conversations. To support the evolution of policymaking on these crucial issues, throughout the year, Verité has shared our supply chain expertise in coalition with other civil society groups at conferences, panels, and roundtables, including our membership in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) and in bilateral or multi-stakeholder discussions with foreign governments; UN agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and U.S. government agencies and departments, including the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Department of Defense; among many others.
 
We Educated People about Forced Labor, Child Labor, Ethical Recruitment, and other Labor Rights Issues. Across the country and around the world, we spoke at conferences and institutions, including the Ceres Conference 2019, the 8th Joint Audit Forum (JAC) on Corporate Social Responsibility, UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, Duke University, Smith College, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Seafood Expo North America, Human Rights of Migrant Workers, Council on Ethics of the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, Global Forum for Responsible Recruitment, Sustainability Impact Conference, National Association of EHS & Sustainability Management, Annual Compliance and Ethics Institute, Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, 3rd International AHIFORES Forum 2019, Child Labor Forum – Foro: “Retos en la Prevención Y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Photo credit: Year in Review: Jen Watson/shutterstock.com
 

News Archives