Why Monitoring and Evaluation are Critical for Achieving Gender Equality in Your Supply Chain
Gender equality is a fundamental human right, yet achieving it in supply chains can be a daunting challenge. With global supply chains becoming increasingly complex and interconnected, companies often struggle to ensure that their products are not tainted by gender-based discrimination or abuse. This is particularly true in high-risk supply chains, where human rights abuses are more likely to occur. So, how can companies ensure that their supply chains are free from gender discrimination and abuse? A big part of the answer lies in monitoring and evaluation. By monitoring and evaluating their supply chains, companies can identify and address gender-based discrimination and ensure that their suppliers treat their workers fairly and respectfully. These detection mechanisms can help companies develop a comprehensive strategy for ensuring that their supply chains are free from gender-based discrimination and that corrective actions are taken when needed.
This article will explore why monitoring and evaluation are critical for achieving gender equality in your supply chain It will examine how these practices can help identify and address gender-based discrimination and share a best practice example for implementing effective monitoring and evaluation programs. First, let us take a closer look at what monitoring and evaluation entail.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation are essential for identifying and addressing gender-based discrimination in supply chains. Monitoring is the ongoing process of collecting and analysing information to track progress and identify areas for improvement. It involves setting up systems and processes to gather data regularly and ensure accuracy and reliability. Monitoring allows companies to identify trends, track performance, and detect problems early on, which is essential for implementing timely and effective corrective actions. On the other hand, evaluation is the systematic and objective assessment of the effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, and sustainability of a project, program, or policy. Evaluation provides insights into the impact of interventions, the effectiveness of strategies, and the overall performance of the supply chain with regard to gender equality. The evaluation process is often supported by an external or internal auditor who examines documents and processes, interviews employees, and visits sites to gather evidence. Auditing usually involves a one-time or ongoing evaluation of a company’s operations to determine whether they meet specific criteria or standards.
The Importance of Monitoring and Evaluation for Gender Equality in Supply Chains
There are several reasons why monitoring and evaluation are crucial steps of a company’s gender-responsive supply chain strategy.
- Identifying Gender Discrimination and Inequality
Gender discrimination and inequality can manifest in many ways within a supply chain. Women may be paid less than their male counterparts or have limited opportunities for advancement due to discriminatory hiring practices or a lack of access to training and education. Identifying these issues can be challenging, especially in complex global supply chains, but monitoring and evaluating your supply chain can help to uncover these hidden forms of discrimination. For example, if a supplier pays female workers less than male workers for the same job, auditing can reveal this and prompt action to rectify the pay disparity. Similarly, if a supplier limits access to education or training programs based on gender, monitoring can identify this as a potential source of gender inequality and lead to efforts to expand opportunities for women in the workforce. By identifying gender discrimination and inequality, companies can take steps to address these issues and promote a more inclusive and equitable supply chain.
- Understanding Root Causes
Monitoring and evaluation play a crucial role in understanding the root causes of gender discrimination and inequality in the supply chain, which is essential for developing effective solutions. In many cases, the root causes of these issues are deeply entrenched in cultural attitudes, beliefs, and values that perpetuate gender-based discrimination and inequality. Discriminatory policies and practices may also be embedded in suppliers’ operations. To address the root causes of gender discrimination and inequality in a supply chain, it’s essential to thoroughly analyse the cultural, social, economic, and political factors that contribute to these issues. Once the root causes have been identified, companies can work with their suppliers to develop more effective solutions that address the underlying issues. This may involve revising policies and practices that perpetuate discrimination and inequality and engaging with local communities to promote awareness and understanding of the importance of gender equality in the workplace.
- Ensuring Supplier Compliance
Monitoring and evaluating your supply chain not only helps to identify instances of gender discrimination and inequality but also ensures that your suppliers are meeting your standards for gender equality. This could include ensuring they have policies to prevent gender discrimination, providing employee training and education opportunities, and promoting gender diversity in their workforce. Holding your suppliers accountable can create a fairer supply chain that reflects your company’s values and commitments.
Best Practice: We Women by Lindex
Several companies have already taken steps to monitor and evaluate their supply chains for gender equality. A great example of a company that has integrated monitoring and evaluation into its gender-responsive supply chain strategy is Lindex.
Lindex is a prominent fashion company in Europe with around 458 stores across 18 countries. In 2017, the company partnered with GIZ and BSR to launch the “WE Women” project” to integrate gender equality into supplier management systems. Through this project, Lindex provided suppliers with training and support to plan, execute, monitor, and evaluate business operations from a gender equality perspective. However, after tracking the results of their previous factory audits, Lindex found that suppliers were not effectively reporting gender-specific issues, leading to inaction in addressing them. To solve this, Lindex implemented a parallel training program for suppliers to conduct gender-specific self-assessments and report any problems directly to Lindex. This approach holds suppliers responsible for addressing adverse impacts and committing to the company-wide gender equality policies. By doing so, Lindex holds suppliers accountable for promoting gender equality and monitors the implementation of sustainable business practices throughout their enterprise.
Although achieving gender equality in supply chains is a challenging task, monitoring and evaluation are critical mechanisms that can help drive change. By monitoring and evaluating supply chains, companies can locate gender-based discrimination and inequality, understand the root causes, and ensure supplier compliance with gender equality standards. Best practice examples, such as Lindex, demonstrate that integrating monitoring and evaluation into a company’s gender-responsive supply chain strategy can help promote a more inclusive and equitable supply chain that reflects the company’s values and commitments.