During the 40th anniversary conference of the Foreign Trade Association in Brussels, FWF participated in two panels, on Living Wages and Gender Equality.
FWF’s Anne van Lakerveld elaborated on FWF’s approach of not focusing on the living wage number, but rather on how to implement higher wages. She stressed the importance of realising that payment of a living wage starts with the pricing policy of a brand. FWF supports brands to learn this insight and help them ensure that the price they pay is at least enough to cover minimum wage.
Help brands do better
‘Brands would like to address Living Wages but find it difficult to know where to start’, says Anne. She conducted the Living Wage workshop at the FTA conference together with Martha and Richard Anker, authors of the newly published book ‘Living Wages Around the World: Manual for Measurement’.
‘We want to move factories and brands from a culture of ‘This doesn’t happen’ to ‘This is an issue and we know how to prevent and address it’
Lisa Suess presented FWF’s work on gender equality in a panel, alongside the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, ELEVATE, ITUC, DBL Group and OECD. Lisa shared learnings from FWF’s experience in Bangladesh and India. Since 2012, FWF, together with local partners, has been implementing a gender programme in both countries, training factory management, line supervisors and workers on gender-based violence and how to establish anti-harassment committees.
During the panel Lisa also shared practical strategies that companies can take to prevent and address gender-based violence. Lisa: ‘The good news is that brands can contribute to gender equality. We often encounter brands which accept that their sourcing practices have an impact on overtime and wage levels, but gender-based violence is perceived as a cultural problem that they cannot influence. The truth is that there is a great deal brands can do.’
To learn more about gender-based violence in global supply chains, check out this resource kit. FWF’s Labour Minute Costing Report helps to calculate how much more a product will cost if living wages are paid, and Living Wages: an explorer’s notebook helps companies start the journey to realise living wages in their supply chains.