Verité’s vision is a world where people work under safe, fair, and legal conditions. Yet, as we scan the globe, it’s all too obvious that women workers are still particularly vulnerable to labor rights abuses across all sectors and geographies. Therefore, our work requires a special focus on how women are treated in the workplace and how gender inequality can exacerbate labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains. Looking just at the most severe form of labor exploitation – forced labor – the gender dimensions are clear: according to the International Labour Organization, nearly 60 percent of workers in conditions of forced labor are women.
Internationally, Verité’s research has shown that women are often barred from working in specific jobs, which can drive them into the informal sector where wages are lower, conditions are more precarious, and risks are higher for labor and sex trafficking. In the formal sector, piece rate pay and pay discrimination against women leads to unfair compensation that drives gender inequality. In the United States, female migrant workers in the garment sector face increased risks of wage and hour violations, to their health and safety, and of harassment and abuse. Verité has worked with companies and governments to shine light on these issues and provide knowledge and tools to address them.
One of our important initiatives began in 2008 when Verité collaborated with San Francisco’s Department on the Status of Women and Calvert Investments to develop the Gender Equality Principles (GEP). These principles are practical standards to which companies can aspire, and a measure against which they can assess their progress on fundamental issues of gender equality. Verité was key in the creation of the web-based self-assessment tool for employers to benchmark their policies and practices. In addition, the Gender Equality Principles Initiative (GEPI) is home to an extensive library of online resources that promote gender equitable workplaces. In addition to working closely with some of the Bay Area’s largest employers, including McKesson, Deloitte, Google, Symantec, and Gap, Inc. to further refine and implement the GEP, this initiative was also instrumental in the elaboration of the United Nation’s Women’s Empowerment Principles.
Ten years later, and after winning an international award for their work, the GEPI continues to help businesses empower, advance, and invest in women. Next month, GEPI will host their annual Gender Equity Challenge Forum which showcases employers who are implementing innovative practices to advance women in the workplace.
All of Verité’s programming – worker training, consulting and training, research, policy advocacy, and in-depth assessment work – seeks to highlight and address gender imbalances in the workplace and more broadly in supply chain systems.
For more information, please contact Shawn MacDonald.