M&S To Communicate Directly With Textile Workers Via Mobile Technology
Published on Sep 18 2013 11:29 AM in Technology
Marks & Spencer has signed a one year deal with social enterprise technology provider Good World Solutions which will enable the retailer to communicate directly with workers in its clothing supply chain in Asia via mobile technology.
M&S will use Labor Link technology that returns anonymous, quantitative survey results to M&S direct from supply chain workers. Workers listen to questions on their mobile phones in Hindi, Sinhalese, or another local language, and respond using their touch-tone keypad.
As part of its Plan A programme, M&S has already tested the technology with 13 suppliers in India and Sri Lanka, surveying over 2,000 workers as part of M&S’ financial literacy and health and nutrition Plan A training programmes.
M&S will now roll out the service to 30 factories and 22,500 workers in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, gathering feedback on subjects such as working conditions, job satisfaction and training. Four surveys are planned a year. M&S said there would be no cost to the workers when using the technology although there would be a minimal cost for M&S suppliers to receive the summary data.
Fiona Sadler, head of ethical sourcing at Marks & Spencer, said, “This is an innovative breakthrough for us and moves workplace communication into the digital era. It’s not about checking up on our suppliers, it’s about making sure we’re doing the right things for the workers in our supply chain and giving them a voice.
Sadler continued, “We don’t directly employ workers in the factories, but they make Marks & Spencer products, take part in Marks & Spencer training programmes and have a stake in our brand. It’s important to know whether we’re getting things right. The real time data Labor Link can deliver for us will be invaluable in shaping our policies and programmes.”
Heather Franzese, Director of Good World Solutions, added, “As the first UK company to give workers a voice through mobile technology, M&S is really taking a leadership position. There are 4.5 billion mobile subscriptions in the developing world. This is a truly disruptive innovation in ethical trade – enabling workers and buyers to connect directly.”
© 2013 - ESM: European Supermarket Magazine by Ellen Lunney