Progress in 2019
Beyond individual supplier improvements, in 2019, we invested in programs to address complex regional and systemic issues identified through assessment data, risk assessments, or by external stakeholders.
Addressing Wages and Benefits
Compliance with our standards on wages and benefits persists as a common issue across suppliers in our Responsible Sourcing Program, as evidenced by the frequency of this finding among our suppliers. In 2019, we updated our Supply Chain Standards to include language encouraging suppliers to pay a fair wage and announced that worker wages is one of our key commitments areas as a program. In 2020 and 2021, we will dive deeper in to the root causes of this issue and the actions that Amazon and our suppliers need to take to reduce future findings on wages.
Women have the power to be agents of change in workplaces and society. Ensuring women workers in our supply chain have the resources and information to make choices on their health, their safety, and their finances empowers them to overcome structural and societal disadvantages and improves outcomes for all workers. We have committed to investing in women’s empowerment and, in 2019, we began a partnership with the BSR HERproject, an initiative that brings together global brands, their suppliers, and local partners to create and implement workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion, and gender equality. Through our partnership with HERproject, we engage with suppliers in China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and India. As of June 2020, we reached over 8,700 women, building the capacity of workers and factory management to combat gender-based discrimination in the workplace.
Emphasis on Supplier Transparency
Supplier transparency issues were one of our most common High and Medium severity findings in both 2017 and 2018. Over the last year, we focused on increasing our communication with suppliers through pre-assessment outreach and on-site engagements to explain our standards and expectations of suppliers. We also improved our supplier-facing materials—including publication of a Supplier Manual—detailing our process and the importance of transparency. Building on our Leadership Principle of Earns Trust, we seek to build solid, trusting relationships with our suppliers over time that lead to better sharing of information.
Increased Investment in Health and Safety Programs
Health and Safety subcategories continue to be one of our most common assessment findings, particularly Emergency Preparedness and Response and Industrial Hygiene. In 2019, we began working with the SCORE Training Program, a lean manufacturing program focused on improving productivity and working conditions in small and medium-sized manufacturers. We enrolled suppliers in India and China to improve supplier management systems and their ability to effectively and efficiently meet health and safety standards. The program offers training and assistance in implementing improvement plans across five areas: workplace cooperation, health and safety, quality management, clean production, and human resources. In 2020, we will continue to enroll additional suppliers and develop a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for measuring impact on health and safety performance.
Forced labor is a complex and often hidden crime. Suppliers frequently lack basic awareness of the risks inherent in worker-paid recruitment fees or the importance of a process for responsibly managing migrant worker recruitment. Our standards require suppliers to reimburse in full any fees paid during the recruitment process. We are working to educate our suppliers on the issue, helping them develop the appropriate management systems, and ultimately minimizing the risks of forced labor. In 2020, we developed a Responsible Recruitment Guidebook in collaboration with labor rights nonprofit Verité. This guide provides suppliers with practical strategies to prevent forced labor risks and remediate worker-paid recruitment fees. In 2020, we will launch in-person trainings on responsible recruitment for our suppliers in Malaysia, Taiwan, and Japan. We are also working with the Responsible Labor Initiative to advance industry-wide approaches to ensuring responsible recruitment.