Posts Tagged ‘worker empowerment’

Evaluating our Code of Conduct Program

Timberland prides itself on a long-standing Code of Conduct program. Over the years, we’ve shifted our work in factories to expand beyond basic compliance, trained our assessment team to incorporate workers’ voices, and helped factory management build better management systems.  We include environmental and social/labor conditions in our assessments, and go beyond factory walls to assess whether workers are able to meet their basic needs. We rely on partnerships with stakeholder groups and standards bodies to vet our approach against best-in-class training programs, processes for corrective action plans, and mechanisms for worker empowerment. We don’t have all the answers, but we know that giving workers a voice is critical for leveraging our business to create improved working conditions and quality of life.

So, how are we doing?

In 2010, Timberland commissioned Social Accountability International (SAI) to review whether our Code of Conduct program is implemented in the field as designed. SAI is a non-governmental organization whose mission is to advance the rights of workers around the world. As a Corporate Member of SAI, we share their mission to improve working conditions in our or supply chain in accordance with relevant ILO conventions and national law. We asked SAI to validate our program’s capability of achieving our objectives, including a review of our team’s necessary skills to be effective.

SAI’s comprehensive assessment concluded that there are key areas of our Code of Conduct program that are working well, producing positive results and even “best practice.”  SAI also uncovered a number of areas for improvement and opportunities for us to mitigate potential risks and improve the impact of our Code of Conduct program.  You can read more about SAI’s detailed findings and recommendations on the Responsibility section of our website.

Overall, the Timberland Code of Conduct program is extremely sophisticated in its design and places Timberland among the leaders in the field.

- Craig Moss, project lead and SAI’s Director of Corporate Programs and Training

SAI’s thoroughness enabled this process to truly validate our program’s capability and effectiveness.  We look forward to continued partnership with SAI as we continue to work to create real improvements in our supply chain.

Ensuring that the thousands of people worldwide who make our products have fair and safe workplaces is part of our commitment to running a responsible business.  To learn more about our Code of Conduct program, visit the Responsibility section of our website.

Engaging and Empowering for Positive Change

Earthkeeping isn’t all about treating the environment with kindness and respect … it’s about caring for the people who share the environment with us in the same way.

There is a great article by Dan Viederman, Executive Director for  Verité, in McKinsey & Company’s “What Matters” publication.  In it, Dan speaks about the power of worker empowerment and engagement, based on work that Verité has done for the past several years, dating back to pilot programs they conducted with Timberland in 2006 in some of our supply chain factories in China.

Based on our own experiences, I echo Dan’s sentiments about the important role worker engagement can play in instilling worker empowerment, and about the need to scale that work.  Since our pilots in 2006, Timberland has rolled the approach out globally and we now formally engage workers in the assessment process in 100% of our factories.  Last year we published a paper that outlines in detail our approach, hoping to inspire others to move from compliance audits to collaborative worker-engaged platforms.

Thoughts about Dan’s article, questions about Timberland’s own approach?  Please feel free to share them here.

Colleen Von Haden
Senior Manager, Code of Conduct
Timberland