If labor exploitation was a humanitarian crisis long before the pandemic happened, then the numbers suggest that the global health crisis only made it worse. Now more than ever, laborers are more at risk of being exploited, so they work themselves to the ground. Moreover, women and children in developing nations are more exposed to human trafficking and modern slavery than before.
And because everything in the United States is so sanitized, we never see the realities of labor exploitation and how it occurs in developing nations. When it comes to making a profit, worker protection often gets lost in the conversation.
If you want to be a more conscious consumer moving forward, here are some brands that pledged to protect their employees, workers, and suppliers, especially during the pandemic. These can be ensuring fair wages and working hours and providing safety gear and equipment like fire-resistant protective clothing to their employees exposed to health and safety hazards at work. Know the brands worth looking into because they pledged to protect their employees and workers at every level of their operations.
With the clarion call for fast fashion brands to reveal how and where their products are made and with so many companies failing the United Nations human rights’ test, brands like Adidas are a breath of fresh air. The global sportswear brand World Benchmarking Alliance’s Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and the brand itself have always been vocal about their corporate responsibility to respect the rights of everybody who helps build the business.
The brand expressed commitment to operate responsibly at every level of its value chain. They do so by safeguarding the rights of their employees and workers responsible for manufacturing their products. The brand also pledged community outreach and engagement—a benchmark of their advocacy is that they are always seeking to learn, understand, and identify the most salient human rights issues and advocate for their workers as time goes on and technology continues to advance.
Unilever, the giant corporation home to over 400 brands and available in more than 190 countries, pledges that human rights are at the heart of their operations. The company claims that respecting human rights is hard-wired into their business and processes, and these are some ways they execute this vision:
- Improving their company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Advocating for higher living standards for their employees by achieving fair compensation for them
- Creating a safe and healthy work environment
- Respecting the rights of their employees even in their extended value chain
The company claims that everything they do is driven by their commitment to respect the rights of their employees at every level, and they also have initiatives to promote labor rights.
Eni, a multinational oil company, based in Italy, was another company that topped the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark study. Known for being one of the supermajor oil companies globally, it operated in 66 nations and ranked #113 in the 2020 Fortune Global 500 list based on revenue. Eni is known for its dedication to human rights as a corporate giant as a massive part of its corporate culture despite its status as a corporate giant. Here is a summary of the corporation’s dedicated report on the company’s commitment, performance, and activities on human rights for 2020:
- Their vision on human rights is hinged on the dignity of every human being, regardless of where they live and who they are. In its statement on respect for human rights, the company also said that respecting the rights of every human being is deeply ingrained in its mission. They are an energy company that is also committed to sustainability and long-term partnerships with communities and host countries.
- They have a supplier code of conduct that details how their company values guide their choices. These values include integrity, respect, protection of human rights, transparency, promotion of development, teamwork and collaboration, operational excellence, and innovation.
- They also expressed unwavering support to the building and creating a purely ethical work environment that recognizes the importance of diversity and inclusion. They also abide by the International Labor Organization Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, promoting the value of environmental sustainability.
Now is the best time to be more vigilant about our support and admire companies. Don’t be afraid to look into the brands you use. If they don’t meet your standards, you can be sure to find one that will help you feel a bit better about spending your hard-earned money.