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As You Sow Planting Seeds For Social Change

As You Sow's Human Rights Program focuses on increasing respect for employee labor and human rights in the workplace and elimination of abusive labor practices. Over the past two decades, globalization has resulted in massive outsourcing of production of apparel, footwear, toys, electronics, and many other products formerly produced in the U.S. While some developing economies have benefitted as a result, globalization has often resulted in a "race to the bottom" involving unsafe working conditions, child labor, employee abuse and unsustainable wages.

Major brands were eager to outsource production to exploit cheap labor costs, but they did not initially seek to outsource American labor rights and human values in the process. In response, advocacy groups pressed companies to adopt labor and human rights codes of conduct for their supply chain to ensure workers' access to safe working conditions, humane treatment, and just compensation.

Over the past decade, we have successfully engaged major brands such as Dell, Gap Inc., Hewlett-Packard, Nike, McDonald's Corp., Time Warner, Walmart Stores and Walt Disney Co. to enforce supply chain codes of conduct to protect and improve the lives of the workers who make their products.

Our work focuses on:

  • Engaging companies to enforce and monitor global supply chain vendor codes of conduct
  • Working with companies to go beyond monitoring and actively improve working conditions for employees and production practices at multiple levels of the supply chain
  • Encouraging comprehensive public reporting of code compliance activities

A central element engagement of this work was Project Kaleidoscope, a multi-year engagement with McDonald's Corp., Walt Disney Co. and other stakeholders on ways to improve working conditions and sustain code compliance at 10 supplier factories in China. The project ended in 2008 and resulted in a public report.

More information about our Fair Labor Initiative can be found here.

We have a special focus on compliance by major electronics companies on labor and human rights codes. More information can be found here.

Responsible Sourcing Network

As You Sow is working to eradicate forced labor and other egregious human rights abuses at the commodity level of corporate supply chains through a new project called the Responsible Sourcing Network. It focuses on ending forced child labor in Uzbekistan's cotton industry, and the conflict minerals trade in Democratic Republic of the Congo. More information can be found here.

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