BSR Partners with Leading Supply Chain Initiatives on Ambitious Three-Year Project to Advance Women’s Empowerment

Oct 3, 2016 3:00 AM ET
Press Release

PARIS, October 3 2016 /3BL Media/ —Today, BSR announced a new collaboration with leaders in supply chain networks to advance women’s empowerment in global supply chains. In partnership with six of the most influential supply chain networks around the world, Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), The Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI), International Council of Toy Industries CARE Foundation (ICTI CARE), The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and Sedex, BSR will focus on making women’s empowerment central to the strategies, guidelines, and practices that provide a framework for supply chain management worldwide.

As part of this partnership, BSR will provide recommendations on how to integrate a gender lens into traditional supplier codes of conduct by developing a ground-breaking guidance document, the first of its kind.

“Inventing a code isn’t going to help achieve gender equality in the supply chain. To be effective, gender considerations need to infiltrate the existing standards. This gender code guidance is a first step toward mainstreaming gender considerations into private-sector policies and practices,” said Peder Michael Pruzan-Jorgensen, Senior Vice President at BSR.

BSR will hold consultation workshops with gender experts and companies on the gender code guidance in New York and The Hague toward the end of 2016. A final draft will be submitted for open consultation, and the guidance will be made publicly available early in 2017.

“If you don’t know what to look for, you can be in the dark on policies and practices that harm women. The gender code guidance is a tool to help shine a light on areas that may need improvement—whether it’s preserving women’s health rights, protecting against harassment, or promoting equal pay and professional advancement,” said David Wofford, Vice President for Meridian Group International, Inc. Meridian promotes workplace health policies under the Evidence Project, which is led by the Population Council, a USAID-funded global project that uses implementation science to improve reproductive health. 

To accompany this final document, BSR will develop supplier auditing guidelines to support the identification of practices that prevent women from being empowered and fulfilling their potential in the workplace.

In addition, BSR will collaborate with ICTI-CARE and IDH on in-country work to design and implement women’s empowerment strategies in partnership with local industry associations in India and Kenya to foster deeper change within those countries.

BSR’s collaboration with these supply chain initiative partners is part of a broader three-year project focusing on mobilizing private-sector action for women’s empowerment funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands (MINBUZA). The theory of change underpinning this project is based on the BSR framework outlining how private-sector actors can advance women’s empowerment in three ways: as actors, as enablers, and as influencers.

Partner Statements

“India is fast emerging as a dynamic new center for toy production, which presents unique opportunities to build in ethical standards and get things right from the start. Women make up the majority of the global toy workforce and we are delighted to partner with BSR to deliver practical, in-factory support and peer-to-peer training to empower women and enhance their well-being at Indian toy factories.” —Carmel Giblin, CEO and President, ICTI CARE

“As women contribute up to 75 percent of the production workforce in floriculture, it is crucial for the health and sustainability of the floricultural sector to ensure that all workers have equal access to productive and economic resources and opportunities such as education, information, assistance, and wages. In that, BSR is a highly valued partner of the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) and its engagement toward gender-related issues is greatly appreciated. Together with other FSI members and supply chain partners, BSR provides opportunities to build on existing projects and take additional actions focusing on empowering people and communities.” —Jeroen Oudheusden, CEO, FSI

“We are delighted to be part of this important initiative, which will support our BSCI participants toward adopting strategies, guidelines, and practices that incorporate a gender lens. Our members have an unwavering commitment toward the empowerment of women in global supply chains and value the power of partnerships and collaborations, as well as the impact of a collective voice on critical issues. Through this partnership with BSR, we anticipate that the initiative will complement BSCI 2.0 by engaging our participants in a strategic manner and facilitate a targeted approach aimed at empowering women in global supply chains—and contribute toward meeting SDG 5 to 'achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.'” —Christian Ewert, Director General, Foreign Trade Association

“Women play an instrumental role in supply chains and experience specific challenges relating to gender equality, including fair remuneration, representation, and exploitation. Sedex, through its partnership project with BSR, will support and aim to re-address the issues of gender equality and improve the working conditions of women in supply chains.” —Jonathan Ivelaw-Chapman, CEO, Sedex

About BSR

BSR is a global nonprofit organization that works with its network of more than 250 member companies and other partners to build a just and sustainable world. From its offices in Asia, Europe, and North America, BSR develops sustainable business strategies and solutions through consulting, research, and cross-sector collaboration. Visit for more information about BSR’s 25 years of leadership in sustainability.

About the MINBUZA Project

The three-year MINBUZA-funded program aims to catalyze industry-wide change in a number of global supply chains, impacting up to 40 million workers, the majority of whom are women. The program will focus on deeper, in-country change in India and Kenya in particular. The program also aims to drive private-sector action for women’s empowerment at the company level by creating a global action network for international companies.