The WOW alliance has identified clear opportunities for businesses to improve transparency on women’s work in global value chains and inform strategies to leverage gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. Given the high level of resources that companies devote to social compliance, it could become an important source of evidence on the work and conditions of female workers across global value chains - if improved to capture key gender data. While it is far from a silver bullet, it provides a platform to build upon, and companies must play an important influential role in championing the consideration of women in data and reporting.
- Data collection: Despite their limitations social audits provide an existing mechanism that could be used more effectively. Businesses must systematically and consistently collect data that allows the identification of (and subsequence action to address) risks to women. Suppliers need to request gender data from sub-contractors and lower tier suppliers.
- Data recording: Gender-disaggregated data and information that is gathered, should be captured in a way that is useful for detailed analysis or tracking over time. Businesses must use social audits to track data that will allow them to identify and address their risks effectively over time, archiving past data in an accessible format.
- Data reporting: Businesses can push for reporting frameworks that take women into account and drive greater accountability. These need to be compatible across companies and organisations, in order to compare change over time and assess progress.
There are signs of positive change. Some leading retailers and brands are examining their procedures and practices to enhance the visibility of women workers in their textile and garment value chains. The Gender Data and Impact (GDI) toolhas been developed through collaboration between a number of leading organisations to conduct gender responsive due diligence in global supply chains. Sedex, a leading international ethical trade and social compliance platform, has highlighted the collection and reporting of better gender data and information as a key goal in its work.
Reliable data on women and men workers will, however, only form one dimension of attaining more effective due diligence in textile and garment value chains. Long-lasting change will require companies to analyse the gathered data, translate it into effective responses for workers and engage in large-scale collaboration with peers, civil society and policymakers. By working together, businesses can begin paving the way towards more resilient and sustainable value chains.