By carrying out ethical audits, brands can protect their reputation against suppliers that engage in unethical practices such as providing dangerous working conditions or using slavery or child labor.
The crucial and most effective part of any ethical audit is the onsite phase, where auditors visit a supplier’s facility to investigate it in person. This phase gives auditors an opportunity to verify conditions first-hand and in depth.
The onsite phase is crucial and highly effective. However, in some cases, it’s necessary or desirable to go beyond onsite auditing and to introduce measures that allow workers at a supplier’s facility to communicate with the audit provider after the onsite phase has finished.
A proactive worker callback service is one service that allows this to happen. With this service, auditors will call workers to gather further information after the onsite audit has finished.
Carrying out worker callbacks can be useful in a variety of situations, particularly in safeguarding workers against mistreatment. If, for example, there are concerns that a facility’s management is retaliating against workers who reveal damaging information during onsite audit interviews, a proactive worker callback service can help.
The proactive worker callback service helps in gathering information from a supplier’s workers.
When it comes to auditing a supplier, the workers at their facilities are the most important source of information. They are there all the time, and they see everything that goes on. They’re also the ones that the audit directly concerns. As a result, the onsite interviews that auditors conduct with workers are a crucial part of auditing.
These interviews, however, are not always a foolproof way of getting information from workers. There may be instances when workers are unwilling or unable to provide information during an onsite interview.
A worker callback service provides a solution for when these situations arise.
With callbacks, auditors follow up onsite interviews by re-contacting workers at a convenient time, and when they might be more willing to reveal vital information that they can’t reveal during an onsite interview. This provides a channel for a supplier’s workers to report information that they might otherwise have to withhold.
This service was developed by QIMA after a client had an issue with a factory’s management retaliating against workers after onsite auditing had finished. Their actions included wage cuts, verbal and physical harassment and job termination.
QIMA developed the proactive worker callback service to combat the threat of retaliation against those workers who disclosed negative information during onsite audit interviews. QIMA auditors would take the phone numbers of interviewees and schedule a suitable time to call after the interview was over. Being able to speak to an auditor at a time and in a place that was suitable for the workers allowed them to raise their concerns better and without fear of retaliation.
In addition to helping combat the fear of retaliation following an audit, the proactive worker callback service can also be useful in other instances.
One of those situations is when migrant workers do not speak the same language as auditors.
Some of the most vulnerable workers in the supply chain are migrant workers. Whether they’re from different ethnic and language groups from within a country or are from abroad, the environment and language at work are both foreign to them. As a result, they find themselves in a significant power disparity at their workplace. Mistreatment is often reported.
Some workers have their passports or identity cards “held for safe-keeping” by factory management - ensuring they can’t leave without permission. Others may be charged exorbitant recruiting fees by agencies. These fees acquire more interest than workers can ever hope to pay back - trapping them in a situation of forced labor.
With the proactive worker callback service, auditors are better able to identify such mistreatment by getting someone who speaks the same language as a migrant worker to speak to them.
Currently, QIMA provides callback support in 15 languages. We can also add more if required. Some of the more commonly used languages are Bahasa, Malay, Burmese, Khmer, Chinese, English, Hindi, Japanese, Kannada, Marathi, Korean, Portuguese, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese.
During a callback, callers will speak in the worker’s native language. They will ask a series of pre-determined questions from a script and then ask open-ended questions to see if the worker has any other complaints they would like to report.
Detailed responses are recorded, and clients are able to view the information gathered in all callbacks in a dashboard. Workers are given complete anonymity.
The dashboard also includes data analytics, such as:
Call volumes and call success rates
Call results - including the number and details of complaints and violations, broken down into categories
Call quality monitoring information
Categorized results, such as country, language, social audit manager, factory, etc.
QIMA’s proactive worker callback service goes beyond the audit and gives a heightened level of visibility into supply chains. If you believe that your organization could benefit from the proactive worker callback service, you can reach out to us here.