Marks & Spencer polls over 60,000 workers using mobile technology

Thursday, 23 October 2014
British retailer Marks & Spencer has polled more than 60,000 of its workers in its supply chain on topics including working conditions and health and safety concerns in five countries using mobile technology. The retailer is using Labor Link technology to gather anonymous feedback from 64,230 workers across 46 manufacturing locations in China, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the UK, as part of its efforts to engage in conversation with its suppliers and to allow its workers to have an anonymous channel to report on sensitive issues like working hours and communication with their supervisors.

Labor Link reaches workers in a variety of technology preference, for instance in Bangladesh, workers used basic feature phones to access pre-recorded questions to address low literacy rates, while in China workers with smartphones access the technology through a WeChat application.

Marks & Spencer uses Labor Link to give workers a voice

The survey data has already revealed differences in knowledge among workers in areas such as workplace communications, for instance, more factory management responded affirmatively to the question “Is there a way workers can submit a written complaint when they have a work related-problem?” than workers did. This has led Marks & Spencer to develop training programs on workplace communications to align the company’s business practices with worker needs.

Marks & Spencer’s head of ethical trading Fiona Sadler said: “Listening to workers in this way helps us connect the dots between quality of life issues like workplace health and safety and business issues in manufacturing, such as worker retention and productivity.”

Heather Franzese, executive director of Good World Solutions, the organisation behind the Labor Link platform, added: “With 44 percent of workers choosing to participate, M&S surveys are at the upper end of our average Labor Link response rate of 30-40 percent, and we see a higher degree of trust and scalability in anonymous mobile surveys, compared to more traditional methods of connecting with workers through interviews.”

Labor Link was developed by Good World Solutions, a non-profit social enterprise to serve millions of vulnerable workers, farmers and artisans and to create more transparency in global supply chains. The platform aims to give voice to one million workers by 2018.

Image: Good World Solutions/Labor Link

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