Gender inequality and gender-based violence remain significant human rights challenges in global supply chains, particularly in high-risk sectors such as agriculture, mining, and garment manufacturing. Women and girls comprise a substantial portion of the workforce in these sectors. Yet, they often face discrimination and violence based on their gender, including sexual harassment and assault, forced labour, and unequal pay. These risks do not only harm the human rights of workers and communities but also pose reputational and financial risks to companies. In response to these challenges, gender-responsive due diligence has emerged as a critical tool for companies to identify and address gender-related human rights risks in their supply chains. By taking a proactive and gender-responsive approach, companies can protect the rights of workers and communities, enhance their reputation, mitigate business risks, and contribute to sustainable development.
In this blog, we will discuss the six steps to implementing gender-responsive due diligence in supply chains, as outlined by the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence (GRDD) initiative and provide practical tips for companies with high-risk supply chains to move from policy to practice and to contribute to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment.
What is Gender-Responsive Due Diligence?
Gender-responsive due diligence is a process that helps companies identify and address gender-related human rights risks in their supply chains. It involves assessing potential impacts on the rights of women and marginalised groups and taking action to prevent and mitigate any adverse effects. By considering gender issues throughout their supply chains, companies can promote gender equality and women’s empowerment, improve the lives of workers and communities, enhance their reputation and mitigate business risks.
Six Steps to Gender Due Diligence
Implementing gender-responsive due diligence in supply chains can be a complex process. Still, it is crucial for companies operating in high-risk sectors to ensure that they are not contributing to gender inequality and gender-based violence. The Gender-Responsive Due Diligence (GRDD) initiative has developed a framework of six steps that companies can take to implement gender-responsive due diligence and move from policy to practice. By following this comprehensive approach, companies can effectively address gender-related risks, promote equality, and contribute to positive change in global supply chains.
Step 1: Policy and Commitment: Establishing a policy and commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment is the first step towards implementing gender-responsive due diligence. This involves setting clear goals and objectives, communicating the organisation’s commitment to all stakeholders, and developing a gender action plan with specific actions to achieve these goals.
Step 2: Risk Assessment: Conducting a gender-based risk assessment is the second step towards implementing gender-responsive due diligence. This involves identifying potential risks and impacts on women and girls in the supply chain, such as sexual harassment, discrimination, and child labour. Companies can use tools such as the Gender Dimensions of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to assess and manage these risks. In addition, engaging with local communities and women’s organisations can provide valuable insights into gender-related risks.
Step 3: Integration and Implementation: The third step is integrating gender-responsive due diligence into procurement processes and supply chain management. Developing gender-sensitive procurement criteria, supplier selection, and evaluation processes can help ensure that suppliers have policies and practices in place to prevent gender-based violence and discrimination. Training staff on gender-responsive due diligence can help ensure that gender considerations are integrated into all processes.
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation: The fourth step is to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of gender-responsive due diligence measures. Developing gender-sensitive indicators to track progress and establishing a grievance mechanism for workers can help ensure that progress towards gender equality is regularly assessed and reported.
Step 5: Informing Stakeholders: Communicating with stakeholders is the fifth step towards implementing gender-responsive due diligence. To demonstrate commitment to gender equality goals, it is important to communicate about any potential risks, the steps taken to address them, and the outcomes of those actions. By creating transparency, organisations can create a culture and atmosphere of commitment and joint ambition.
Step 6: Remediation: The final step is remediation, which involves continuously improving gender-responsive due diligence measures. By regularly reviewing and updating policies and practices based on feedback and evaluation results, organisations can ensure that these policies are aligned with their commitment to gender equality and their effectiveness in addressing gender-related risks in the supply chain. By sharing best practices and lessons learned with other companies and stakeholders, organisations can promote sector-wide change and foster greater accountability for gender equality in global supply chains.
In conclusion, implementing gender-responsive due diligence is crucial for companies with high-risk supply chains to address gender inequality and gender-based violence. By adopting the six steps outlined by the Gender-Responsive Due Diligence (GRDD) initiative, companies can move from policy to practice and make a real impact on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. This proactive approach protects human rights and mitigates reputational and financial risks while contributing to sustainable development. By continuously reviewing and updating policies, sharing best practices, and engaging with stakeholders, companies can drive sector-wide change and foster greater accountability for gender equality in global supply chains. By taking these steps and prioritising gender-responsive due diligence, companies can contribute to the creation of inclusive and equitable supply chains that empower women, foster gender equality, and drive positive change in the global business landscape.