What does it mean for a factory to
partner with Better Work?
By promoting dialogue in factories, we empower management and worker representatives to identify their needs and improve their working relationships, as a basis for effective prevention and remediation of problems. While engaging with factories, we also build partnerships with other industry stakeholders, to capitalize on their efforts and strengthen their roles. The principles of equality and inclusion are mainstreamed throughout our model.
Our guiding principles
The Better Work model is rooted in six key themes: Ownership, Partnership, Accountability, Dialogue. Gender Equality and Inclusion.
Ownership means that each factory improvement process takes into account the views of the women and men working in the factory regarding what is important in the workplace to them and how they can bring about sustainable change.
During the initial advisory we will coach the factory so they create or work with an existing bipartite or worker/management committee to discuss and resolve workplace issues on a regular ongoing basis.
We will also coach the factory to self-diagnose where they need support to meet laws and standards. Needed improvements and follow-up actions are included in the improvement plan.
The advisory process now focuses on enabling the bipartite committee to address issues listed in the improvement plan – this includes self-diagnosed issues identified during the initial advisory and those that were identified during the BW assessment.
Factories will be supported through: tailored factory visits; issue specific seminars with peers from other factories; and training appropriate to the factory’s specific needs.
We will carry out an unannounced assessment to provide an overview of factory performance in meeting national laws and international labour standards and using effective management systems. An assessment report is released roughly one month after the assessment. This assessment will be conducted on 1 to 2 days with a team of minimum 2 assessors. Better Work will use onsite or hybrid assessment as appropriate. When external events prevent Better Work to visit the factories virtual compliance checks will be used as an alternative assessment modality.
Factories that re-register for the next cycle will continue working on their improvement process through a tailored learning process combining onsite and virtual services in a hybrid format as appropriate. We will again carry out its routine annual assessment roughly 100 days into the new cycle. From the second year onwards, the results of the assessment will help to determine the tailored services package provided to the factory for the following year.
In order to continually strengthen the integrity and public accountability of the programme, we will introduce public reporting to all of our country programmes, building on positive experiences to date in Haiti and Cambodia. Factories are listed online alongside their performance against a set of key criteria.
Better Work is collaborating with the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP) to decrease audit duplication, facilitate data sharing across the industry, and promote compliance with national laws and international standards. Collaboration with SLCP will not affect the services package offered by Better Work at factory level. Better Work will support bipartite committees in completing Step 1 of the SLCP self-assessment and assessment findings will continue to be reflected in the factory live improvement plans and will be linked to additional information on social dialogue and management systems from advisory and training services in the enhanced Better Work Online Portal. Data-sharing via SLCP was launched in Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Vietnam in 2021.
Better Work will identify factories with proven high performance, according to a pre-defined set of differentiation criteria. These factories are offered a different engagement package, including less frequent assessments and more advanced advisory and improvement activities.
Participation in Better Work has a positive productivity effect on firms.
The Better Work factory engagement model is built on ensuring :
Agility and efficiency of factory engagement
1Hybrid training and Advisory services
Based on defined criteria and factory performance levels, factories will receive a portion of their Advisory and Training through virtual means after having completed two or more cycles. At that point, Better Work has sufficient data to assess the level of risk to determine the right mix of in person and virtual advisory and training. Factories requiring a higher level of support will continue to receive a higher level of in person services. Virtual advisory and training will be considered where technology infrastructure permits and when a Factory Ambassador can support activities on site.
From the third cycle, hybrid assessments will be carried out at factories without egregious issues. Hybrid assessments of two days by a two-person team, include one day conducted virtually (document review, management interviews) and one day of onsite data collection (worker interviews and workplace inspection).
3Delivery Through and with National Constituents and Others
In most of its country programmes, Better Work is exploring opportunities to increase the oversight for compliance by national institutions such as Labour Inspectors and workers’ and employers’ organizations. Where possible and practical we believe this is important to achieve sustainable impacts. This may be achieved, for example, through (i) Better Work and the national partners co-delivering factory activities, (ii) Better Work supporting the development or implementation of national programmes that support suppliers, or (iii) supporting authorities to identify data needs and facilitating their access to and understanding of information, data and evidence to advance their mandates more effectively. Better Work will work with industry stakeholders to identify how to meet the needs of key global partners, such as buyers, and how to ensure transparency and trust in these activities.
Better Work is also partnering with other initiatives to deliver factory-level work and scale and deepen impact in key areas. Collaborations include the Empower@Work collaborative, UNICEF for Mothers@Work and the CARE Partnership in Cambodia.
Supplier capacity, accountability, resilience and ownership
This component supports factory staff to take more ownership and responsibility for the compliance improvement process, beyond working with bipartite committees. In order to strengthen factory capacity to instigate and sustain improvements, key factory personnel will receive subsidized training and monitoring by Better Work. Ambassador responsibilities include facilitating social dialogue and problem-solving with the bipartite committee in their factory and supporting Better Work staff when they are required to work remotely or engage virtually.
2Group Level Advisory
A significant number of factories in Better Work programmes are owned or have close business relationships with a single manufacturing group. By elevating our advisory and training to the group level, Better Work can support larger manufacturers to improve compliance outcomes with a larger group of factories, even beyond Better Work’s direct footprint. At group level, businesses can identify thematic issues across their factory base and Better Work can focus on supporting interventions that drive impact where it is most needed.
Group Level Advisory is currently being piloted. Progressive rollout is foreseen from 2023.
3Tailored Learning and Enterprise Roadmaps
Based on identified priorities, factories can tailor a learning plan with the right combination of training and advisory to meet their learning needs and contribute to sustained compliance. These are reflected in a holistic, time bound road map reflecting compliance improvement and learning needs, as well as targets to improve social dialogue and internal systems. Tailored learning services can be based on a mix of in-person, virtual and digitized services (technology permitting).
New functions to define Enterprise Roadmaps will become available in the Better Work online Portal in coming months.
Stronger data, systems and technology for efficiency and impact
1Direct data collection from workers and new forms of engagement through technology
This area is envisioned to strengthen worker voice to more accurately capture worker perspectives and contribute towards stronger social dialogue.
2Modernizing our technology
To achieve greater resource efficiency, we aim to introduce forms of mobile data collection, machine learning and automated reporting.
3Strengthening industry data and data sharing
Better Work is working with the Social & Labor Convergence Program and others with a goal of generating data that is credible and actionable for industry stakeholders, including brands, suppliers and governments to lay a common foundation for remediation and capacity building, to inform better policies and establish a broader evidence base for industry improvements.
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