Our COVID-19 webinar attracts 200 sign ups!
We were overwhelmed by the response to our webinar during COVID-19 which attracted 200 sign ups from a range of brands and suppliers globally. Our discussion centred around how to minimise the impact of the virus on factory workers.
We were glad to have an expert panel join us to discuss how those working in factories are being affected, and discover opportunities to help factories rebuild.
In the webinar, we learnt about:
How are workers being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. What are workers saying and what are their needs.
How can we minimise the impact on workers.
How should we help and prepare factories to rebuild.
How do we measure our impact on workers and monitor improvement.
Jeremy Prepscius, Vice President Asia-Pacific at BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)
Jeremy is in charge of serving and expanding BSR’s member base in Asia and integrating their work into their global approach.
Members include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Coca-Cola, Disney and Wal-Mart. BSR’s global thought leadership, informed through field work and local implementations, enables them to work with member companies to create innovative sustainable solutions and globalize the sustainability dialogue.
Jeremy has extensive experience in supply chain management, business integration, external communications, government relations and compliance operations. Prior to joining BSR in 2006, he spent more than 10 years on equipment sourcing, footwear production and corporate responsibility for Nike, Inc. He also worked in China for five years as the North Asia Regional Compliance Director, covering sustainability issues in Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Cherry Lin, Manager BSR HER project, Guangzhou
Cherry manages the implementation of HERproject, a factory-based initiative focused on improving health and awareness of female workers in South China.
She is responsible for managing the overall implementation of the program, monitoring quality, communicating with brands and factories, and expanding the presence of HERproject throughout the country. Cherry also works for the Walmart Green Farmer Program.
Prior to joining BSR, Cherry worked for Guangdong Overseas Construction Co. Ltd. In this capacity, she developed worker-deployment plans and supported various workers’ trainings.
Since its inception in 2007, HERproject has worked in more than 850 workplaces across 14 countries and has increased the well-being, confidence, and economic potential of more than 1,000,000 women and 450,000 men.
Paul Lennon, Managing Director Asia, Weave
Paul is the Managing Director at Weave, a supply chain consulting, services and capability building firm.
Paul has lead supply chain strategy and transformation programs across small, medium and large organisations across the APAC region including KMart Australia. Paul also has advisory roles for two NGO’s based on Hanoi Vietnam, one providing empowerment programs and the other a social enterprise.
Weave operates under the TAL Group, with 70 years of experience in apparel manufacturing.
Marianne Hughes, Kno Global Founder and CEO
Marianne is an award-winning entrepreneur and thought leader on transparency. As the Founder and CEO of Kno Global, her vision is to humanize the supply chain through building community at the heart of every factory. Kno collects constant well-being data from an engaged worker community, in order to drive continuous improvement.
She has worked with factories across Asia and worked on the line at a factory in China. She was shortlisted for "One Young World Entrepreneur of the Year" with conveners including Emma Watson. She started writing about sustainability in apparel supply chains 7 years ago, for media including Huffington Post and interviewed Suzy Menkes International Director of Vogue for I-D Magazine. She was awarded C&A Foundation Fabric of Change Blogger Award and Levi's Collaboratory Fellow. She's been part of the Fashion Revolution Day volunteer team, and accompanied experts in the field from Impactt consultancy on factory and worker well-being programs in SE Asia.
She previously led sales for B2B software GivingForce to help multinationals manage their corporate responsibility and employee engagement. She is an advocate for gender equality, and since launching her first business aged 18 has raised Angel, Government and VC funding as an entrepreneur.
Andreas A. Kim, Kno Global Advisor and Chief Revenue Officer
Andreas Kim has over 33 years of successful management experience in developing international businesses in the U.S, Asia and across the globe. Andreas has held senior positions in such large global companies as Texas Instruments, Sun Microsystems and Danaher/Tektronix, as well as in market-leading start-ups.
Prior to joining KNO-Global, Andreas A. Kim was the Greater China President/Managing Director of Lectra, a leading French technology solution provider to the Automotive, Fashion, and Furniture market based in Shanghai.
You can still watch the webinar here on Youtube, by clicking below:
Summary of Panelist Remarks and Highlights:
Cherry Lin, Manager BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) HER project on how Covid-19 is impacting workers especially women
Covid-19 is having major, differentiated impacts on women.
Workers are now confronted with two biggest challenges brought by Covid-19: First is the risk of falling into poverty or even extreme poverty.
Second is the health crisis, due to poor hygiene conditions, specifically the lack of clean water and sanitation products, they are exposed to great risk of infection. And because of their vulnerable financial situation, they can hardly afford any medicines or treatment.
Covid-19 is having major, differentiated impacts on women. First and foremost, we have been concerned about the increased domestic violence against women because of the stress and because of the women’s vulnerability; We also have seen increased unpaid care work with the shutting down of schools and women are primarily responsible for this burden in childcare and family responsibilities, which can do harm to women’s physical health and mental health; besides, women, as the group with the least knowledge and suffering from stereotyped social norms, are in the risk of being excluded from technology-oriented job opportunities.
Paul Lennon, Managing Director Asia, Weave shared the following on how the retailer and manufacturer relationship is being impacted:
We refer to three phases as the Bullwhip effect.
When the impact of the virus outbreak was starting to be realized globally, retailers were concerned about manufacturing plants in Asia closing and not being able to deliver orders. As a result, an immense amount of pressure was placed on manufacturers to produce as quickly as you can. So this period was all about securing more inventory and quicker.
In March it becomes clear the coronavirus is a global pandemic. The priority quickly shifted from wanting more stock to the opposite, cancelling orders and preserving cash. Which meant cancelling orders, negotiating payment terms and discounting much heavier than normal to convert inventory into cash.
That leads us to the third phase, which is preparing for the expected ramp once the world recovers from the virus. What will happen at this point in time is naturally, another 180 degree turn, where raising new orders, then producing and shipping the orders will become the immediate priority. Everyone will move from preserving cash to wanting to know how best to invest cash and quickly.
We refer to these three phases as the Bullwhip effect. The bullwhip effect is basically when supply and demand are out of sync. When supply and demand are out of sync, It means both businesses ability to perform successfully is significantly compromised. And in this environment, supply and demand is out of sync much more than normal. So right at this minute, Manufacturers and Retailers rely on each other more than ever.
Building more resilience in the factory relationship begins with your own company initially. How clear is your strategy and how mature is your operation? Once a certain level of maturity is achieved you can create meaningful connections with your supply chain partners by creating alignment and the Strategy level and at the Operations level, People, Process and systems. Manufactures are looking for forecasts from retailers, this will help then build their operating plans. And Retailers very soon will want to see manufacturing capacity plans, which will help them make better decisions.
Jeremy Prepscius, Vice President Asia-Pacific at BSR (Business for Social Responsibility on how the factories should prepare to rebuild:
Utilize factory systems to build factory and industry resilience
The impact on COVID workers is increasingly acute within a broader stressed system. Understanding the impacts on those most at risk is of key importance.
Meet the moment by honouring your contracts, seek support for impacted workforces, extend knowledge access, triage and build lifeline.
Build the future by planning to avoid the next crisis, invest in worker resilience, utilize factory systems to build factory and industry resilience, reprice risk in your supply chain strategy and invest in your own staff.
Marianne Hughes, Founder and CEO Kno Global on what we're hearing from workers and what their needs are
Being in constant communication with the workers helps to keep everyone informed about the latest situation, and keep in touch with changing worker needs.
What makes this time special is that every workplace in the world, factory workplace as one example, community and well-being are top priority. We have seen workers concerned for their physical and mental health, and more of a demand for community and connection given social isolation. Helping factory management is key to get through this time.
After CNY period we saw lower labour turnover than before in certain factories, with workers eager to return to work incase they would lose income later on due to loss of jobs and impact of the virus. We saw a need to deliver stress reduction content and activities, and help educate on precautions workers could take.
Then since some orders have been cut by brands, we actually saw some workers have to do more overtime than before, as factories rush to complete orders before they are cut. Worker pay has been a concern reported via our grievance channel weeks ago, leading to workers leaving the factory and increase in tension between managers.
Key to delivering support to the workers is online communication and encouraging social activities. Community building has been our focus at this time. Being in constant communication with the workers helps to keep everyone informed about the latest situation, and keep in touch with changing worker needs.
Thank you to everyone who participated, asked questions and listened.
If you have any questions or follow-up as a result of this discussion, you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org