The Fair Labor Association (FLA) strategic plan for 2018-2022 is informed by the evolving landscape in which our stakeholders operate. Since the founding of the FLA, its affiliated brands and suppliers have made substantial progress addressing human rights abuses in their labor supply chains, particularly among tier-one suppliers. While conditions for some workers have improved, significant challenges remain.
Too many workers continue to face unsafe conditions, excessive working hours, low pay, harassment and discrimination. While a garment sector job can be a first step out of poverty in the developing world, particularly for women, wages may not be sufficient to meet basic needs and provide discretionary income, leaving many workers trapped in poverty. In addition, estimates are that globally more than 152 million children are engaged in child labor, and more than 20 million children are in forced labor. These issues need to be addressed globally, but the FLA’s work in specific countries and with specific commodities and products also demonstrates a need for improvements tailored for individual local environments – for example, to improve compliance with legal benefits where governments have introduced robust social insurance systems; to stand with workers when their rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are threatened; or to protect vulnerable populations such as children, women workers, and migrant workers from risks to their health, safety, livelihoods, and well-being.
To increase the FLA’s impact, the plan below describes a strategy to improve conditions for the 5.6 million workers in the factories and farms of our current affiliates and additional workers in the new affiliates we hope to add. The strategy is founded upon the FLA’s long-standing commitment to establish and apply strong labor standards through a transparent process that holds companies accountable, while we also increase our efforts to drive systemic improvement through collaboration, innovation, remediation, and capacity building.
This plan also responds to consumers’ and investors’ evolving expectations that brands demonstrate that their efforts to improve conditions for workers are successful. On a parallel track, global brands are also being called on to comply with existing and emerging legal and regulatory frameworks requiring companies to address risks throughout their entire supply chains. Companies with strong human rights commitments have been pursuing these goals for many years, but these companies face increasing market competition based on speed and price. The FLA aims to recognize the work of companies with strong human rights commitments and performance. To advance this goal, the FLA will increase recognition of its unique accreditation program, which is both the gold standard for a systems approach to human rights compliance and social responsibility and a basis for investors and consumers to make informed investing and purchasing choices.
The FLA recognizes that leadership on labor rights starts at the top. Its work to facilitate headquarter-level policies and procedures that are in line with strong labor-rights goals remains central to this plan. The FLA is the only organization of its kind in which brands and suppliers commit to an accreditation process that demands regular review and assessment of corporate structures that support workers’ rights and social responsibility. As an independent non-governmental organization, we accredit a company’s social compliance program once we have evaluated performance against policy commitments made at headquarters.
As always, our work is guided by our mission to protect workers’ rights and improve working conditions in global supply chains and by three overarching objectives:
(1) Strengthen the voice and concerns of workers in our work;
(2) Improve working conditions through effective remediation, and
(3) Demonstrate the impact of the FLA’s model on workers’ lives.
This will involve a variety of approaches that are embedded in this plan, including experimenting with new ways to communicate with workers and strengthening engagement with unions and other organizations that represent workers. And while the FLA has always been committed to effective remediation, this plan also emphasizes efforts to demonstrate that our accountability mechanisms, at both the workplace and headquarter levels, result in better working conditions and, thus, greater positive impact on the lives of workers.
Read the FLA strategic plan below.