The private sector is the largest provider of employment globally, with people worldwide depending on companies for jobs and incomes. Yet the hundreds of millions of people working in international supply chains are often living in poverty, facing insecurity, insufficient pay, low prices and poor working conditions.
We strive to support vulnerable people in global supply chains, so they have decent, dignified work and earn a living wage.
Business can play a critical role in driving the systemic changes needed to transform farmers’ and workers’ lives for the better. In particular, companies can take steps to be better employers, buyers, and partners with their suppliers to raise the bar on ethical performance as well as encouraging governments to develop effective human rights legislation, helping to create a rising tide of responsible business practice.
Our challenge to companies
We challenge companies to move beyond compliance towards making positive impacts on workers in their supply chain through continuous improvement, engaging with suppliers, civil society and governments to transform systems and advance sustainable development.
With a deep understanding of labour rights issues and their root causes, Oxfam encourages companies to focus on improving working conditions, tackling gender inequalities and promoting living wages, adopting proven, best practice approaches.
Our work on human and labour rights
Our work is guided by the conventions of the International Labour Organization, the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Base Code and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(UNGPs), which provide a global, framework for action by companies on human rights. Whether challenging or working with major companies on solutions, we highlight the impacts of purchasing practices that prioritise cost-cutting and quality standards over respecting the rights of workers, with consequences for working conditions, job security and incomes. We advocate for and advise on strategies to enhance peoples’ wellbeing and share more value with the most vulnerable, enabling them to benefit more from their participation in global supply chains. While there is still much to do, progress is underway, with leading companies committing to follow the UNGPs. We are turning attention to how human rights and decent work can be upheld for the growing workforce in the informal and gig economy.
Putting our vision into practice
Oxfam engages with companies including Unilever, Marks & Spencer, Burberry, Mars and Finnish retailer SOK to help them better understand and address the principle human rights risks in their supply chains. We participate in wide-ranging multi-stakeholder initiatives. and develop collaborative, on-the-ground programmes to promote workers’ rights and raise ethical standards.