Supply Chain Commitments
We evaluate our supply chain to identify the industries, countries, and issues where we have the greatest opportunities to identify and address risks and have a positive impact on workers. We work closely with our suppliers around the world, and consistently work to identify partnerships and programs to help our suppliers invest in worker well-being and safe workplaces.
Safe and Healthy Workplaces
Maintaining safe and healthy workplaces is a top priority for Amazon. We have global teams who partner with suppliers to increase worker awareness of safety issues, promote worker participation in their facility’s safety culture, and promote initiatives focused on the well-being of workers on issues that matter most to them.
In 2021, we continued to strengthen our mechanisms to address and improve workplace safety by conducting building, electrical, and fire safety assessments for at-risk suppliers in Bangladesh and Pakistan. We also trained selected suppliers on how to improve management systems and workplace dialogue, and created issue-specific guidebooks to enable suppliers to better understand the root causes of these issues and help prevent issues from occurring.
In 2021, we expanded our work with the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) program, a lean manufacturing program focused on improving productivity and safe working conditions in small and medium-sized manufacturers, with an emphasis on worker participation as an essential component to strong safety management practices. Through an independent assessment of the program, we found a reduction in health and safety findings and accidents, and increases in productivity and worker satisfaction.
To provide programs to workers in our supply chain, we partner with Swasti, a global nonprofit committed to ensuring access to quality health care for workers in marginalized communities. As of 2021, Swasti had reached over 1,200 workers in Amazon’s supply chain in India, providing critical mental health, health care, and social entitlement support to workers, their families, and their communities. Swasti provides a telecare health counseling program, factory management training on COVID-19 prevention and management, and screening for harmful health conditions, including hypertension and diabetes.
Gender equity is a fundamental human right and a necessary foundation of a sustainable supply chain. Quality jobs for women translate to positive impacts for communities, and we’re actively working to empower women to make their own decisions on health, finances, and career development.
In 2021, we scaled our work and investments to advance the rights of female workers in supply chains. We made a $1 million investment in the Resilience Fund for Women in Global Value Chains. The Resilience Fund pools corporate investments to drive local, women-led solutions to some of the toughest problems facing women in global value chains. Established by BSR, the UN Foundation, and Women Win, the Resilience Fund aims to raise at least $10 million to make strategic, long-term investments in women’s economic resilience, health, and well-being.
We worked with International Center for Research on Women Advisors (ICRW) and The Mara Partners to advance women’s rights across our global value chain, and joined Better Cotton’s Working Group on Decent Work & Gender to improve working conditions for cotton farmers.
We signed and adopted the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs). Supported by more than 6,000 corporate signatories, the WEPs were established by the UN Global Compact and UN Women to offer businesses guidance on ways to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace, and community.
We’re committed to working closely with suppliers, business partners, and multistakeholder associations to monitor and promote continual improvement in working conditions, including fair and on-time payment of wages.
We have dedicated teams across the globe that work directly with suppliers to track and report performance against these standards. Our suppliers are required to pay legally required compensation, including overtime and benefits, and we encourage them to continually evaluate whether their workers earn enough to meet their basic needs and the needs of their families.
Making sure workers are paid fairly is a challenge across all industries in global supply chains. We’re working to better understand wage payments in our supply chain to meaningfully engage with suppliers and enhance our due diligence under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights on this issue. We will continue to enroll our suppliers in international programs that improve livelihoods, help suppliers invest in worker well-being, and contribute to the social and economic development of regions where we source and operate. Programs such as SCORE and Better Work address the holistic challenges workers face by focusing on improving working conditions and promoting respect for labor rights. An independent impact assessment of the SCORE program found increased productivity and increased wages for Amazon suppliers participating in the program.
Responsible Recruitment and Freely Chosen Employment
Amazon does not tolerate the use of forced labor. Forced labor is a hidden crime that is hard to combat, and workplace environments and recruitment practices are dynamic. For vulnerable groups such as foreign migrant workers, we’re increasing our understanding of forced labor risk across both home and destination countries. Worker voice mechanisms are important to enable workers to raise issues in a safe and confidential manner. We recognize real progress in this space will only be achieved through collaborative action—by companies, governments, and civil society—to spur systemwide change.
With operations and supply chains spanning the globe, we’re committed to improving the working conditions of people who are connected to our business, and recognize the need to monitor for conditions that put workers at risk of modern slavery. We work to identify and reduce the risk of forced labor. Our Supply Chain Standards prohibit all forms of forced labor and human trafficking, and set requirements aimed at reducing risk. For example, workers must not be required to pay recruitment fees, and suppliers must not retain passports or personal documentation. During assessments of Amazon-branded suppliers, we track where workers migrated from and how much they paid in recruitment fees. If fees have been paid, we require the supplier to reimburse workers in full.
In 2021, we expanded our relationships with key external partners RBA and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). We also began partnering with the Issara Institute to address issues of human trafficking and forced labor through worker voice, partnership, and innovation. We’re working with these organizations to better understand hotspots across our supply chain so that the rights of workers vulnerable to forced labor continue to be respected and promoted. We’re also working with them to leverage collective industry responses for improved due diligence and develop impactful risk mitigation strategies that put the interests of workers first.
Additionally, we expanded our training on responsible recruitment practices to over 50 suppliers through the RBA’s Responsible Labor Initiative and IOM. We also offered worker awareness training to workers at sites in high-risk regions to improve the well-being of foreign migrant workers. These training programs focused on modern slavery risks and the importance of responsible recruitment, including teaching participants how to implement effective risk mitigation controls, identify issues in their recruitment and hiring processes for migrant workers, and draft an implementation plan for addressing these issues.
Standing in Partnership Against Child Labor
The UN designated 2021 as International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. Building on our work with The Centre for Child Rights and Business, Amazon committed to the Joint Action Pledge to strengthen the protection of children’s rights and accelerate action to address child labor in global supply chains.
Through this commitment, we will work with other retailers to further extend due diligence, remediation, and monitoring activities. This will enable us to increase our understanding of child labor in supply chains, deliver programs to support juvenile workers, build the capabilities of suppliers to address child labor, work collaboratively as a group to share learnings, and establish best practices to address child labor.
“Amazon is committed to ensuring our products and services are provided in a way that respects human rights, and combating forced and child labor in global supply chains is an important part of that pledge. In this International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour, we’re proud to reinforce our commitment by joining the Joint Action Pledge and look forward to working collaboratively with The Centre for Child Rights and Business, peer companies, and other stakeholders to strengthen protections for children’s rights and eliminate child labor.” - Leigh Anne DeWine, Director of Social Responsibility, Amazon
We’re committed to sourcing products and services that do not cause unnecessary environmental harm, and work with industry experts on ways to understand the environmental impact of our products.
We’re a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an industrywide group of leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, academic experts, and government organizations working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel products around the world.
We encourage our Amazon-branded suppliers to evaluate their practices using the Coalition’s Higg Index, a tool to help manufacturers measure the social and environmental performance of their facilities. We’re committed to driving adoption of this assessment and helping our suppliers understand their environmental impacts. Our aim is to work with industry partners and our suppliers to understand their environmental footprint and set goals to reduce environmental impacts.
Access to Effective Grievance Mechanisms
We’re building our efforts to provide people connected to our value chain with access to effective grievance mechanisms as part of our supply chain due diligence and investments in worker well-being, and have added this as a key commitment area.
We help our suppliers work with a number of global partners to provide supply chain workers with access to effective grievance mechanisms, including the Amader Kotha Helpline in Bangladesh; Ulula in China, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, and the UK; the amfori SPEAK FOR CHANGE Programme in Vietnam; the Responsible Labor Initiative’s Suara Kami helpline in Malaysia; and Sedex Direct Worker Reporting in India. These organizations are key to helping our suppliers listen to their workers and raise awareness of issues in our supply chain. We provide our suppliers and service providers with these tools in order to help them hear directly from workers about their experiences, and to support the resolution of issues from the workers’ perspectives. Across these mechanisms used in 2021, 92% of closed issues have had worker verification of remedial actions.
As an example of our work in this area, we enrolled our Bangladeshi suppliers in Amader Kotha, a helpline that provides workers in the ready-made garment sector a safe and effective way to report and resolve workplace issues.
We provide ongoing capacity-building to suppliers enrolled in Amader Kotha, assisting with grievance handling mechanisms and worker voice tools. In our third year of working with Amader Kotha, we’re seeing significant impact. In 2021, workers placed 530 calls to the helpline—86% related to labor issues and 4.6% related to safety issues. These cases are resolved directly in partnership with factory management in line with the helpline’s protocols.
More than 88% of workers employed with our Bangladeshi suppliers reported that they were satisfied with the usage of the Amader Kotha Helpline.
Millions of workers worldwide remain affected by deepening poverty, inequality, and job uncertainty due to the lingering impacts of the pandemic. In many parts of Asia, which are critical manufacturing and sourcing regions for Amazon’s goods, workers continue to experience health and financial challenges due to low vaccination rates and reoccurring lockdowns, which can shutter factories.
Nest, a nonprofit supporting the responsible growth and creative engagement of the artisan and maker economy to drive gender equity, supports a growing network of over 1,600 artisan businesses across 120 countries. The partnership between Nest and Amazon Handmade led to the launch of a dedicated cohort of Nest artisan businesses that were promoted through a dedicated gateway on Amazon Handmade.
In the wake of COVID-19, providing artisan businesses with a multichannel sales strategy is essential to their resilience and ability to withstand unprecedented times for small maker businesses. For example, Espacio Handmade, based in Austin, Texas, is a women-owned leather goods business that was highlighted in our 2020 Sustainability Report.
Amazon Handmade also featured the business in the “Our Favorite Finds” section, and within weeks, Espacio Handmade had received hundreds of orders. Amazon Handmade is proud to support creative maker and artisan businesses as they navigate optimal ways to leverage the direct-to-consumer platform that both Amazon and Amazon Handmade provide.
Amazon is currently working with these organizations to devise holistic approaches to combating forced labor:
Sunita Giri is a garment worker at Dhruv Globals Ltd. in India who attended a HERfinance program. She is a single mother of two children, and her family depends on her income alone. Through HERfinance training, Sunita learned the value of investing and saving for health and future expenses. The training taught her about financial planning tools and options to build her savings to support her short-term and long-term goals. It also inspired her to open a savings account, where she regularly deposits funds, and enabled her to use digital payment tools that support fair wage payments. Sunita shared what she learned with her colleagues, family, and neighbors, so that they also benefited from the information she received.