How management decisions affect gender issues in the workplace

At Fair Wear, we recognise that decisions made at a management level are connected to what happens on the factory floor. This means that brands play an important role in preventing issues from occurring.

For example, unrealistic production deadlines and targets often lead to last-minute changes to orders. This can then lead to unpredictable and long working hours, including overtime that may be involuntary. Workers tolerate long hours because the payment they receive for a regular work week does not amount to a living wage and refusing overtime could result in penalties, retaliation, harassment or termination. This is a burden usually felt even more so by women since they are the ones who typically have more caretaking responsibilities at home, making unpredictable and long hours more challenging. Women usually have greater safety risks to take into consideration as well. Working late into the night, particularly if workers are reliant on public transportation or have to walk home in dark and unsafe areas, puts them in difficult situations.

It is important to raise awareness of workplace harassment or violence AND to be proactive – before something happens. We have decided to address this issue head on, because prevention is better than reaction.’

Katharina Fest, CSR manager at Blutsgeschwister

As mentioned in the previous section, addressing these issues at both the factory and management level starts with our WEP factory training sessions that cover how to prevent and deal with these issues. Men in the factories are required to participate in these sessions so that they understand the full extent of the issues and their role in addressing them. These sessions also encourage women’s participation in positions of leadership and train factory auditors, labour inspectors, trainers, complaints handlers and mediators to identify gender-specific risks. The other piece is our Brand Awareness Training Programme that helps brands avoid the type of management decisions that could lead to these sorts of issues in the first place.