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 as 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.
For more than 20 years, Verité has seen how gender inequality exacerbates labor and human rights abuses in global supply chains. Inequality based on gender comes in many forms including restrictions on the types of work women do, limited access to labor protections, and disparities in compensation. In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to take this opportunity to touch on the many ways in which Verité sees, and seeks to change, differential impacts on women from prevailing supply chain dynamics in a variety of sectors.
With the support of Verité and Calvert Investments, San Francisco’s Department on the Status of Women worked closely with some of the Bay Area’s largest employers, including McKesson, Deloitte, Google, Recology, Symantec, and Gap. Together they crafted a web-based self-assessment tool—the Gender Equality Principles Initiative (GEPI)—for employers to benchmark their policies and practices and compile an extensive library of online resources to further promote gender equitable workplaces. GEPI was recently awarded the 2012 International Work-Life Balance Award in Milan, Italy.