Fortune 500 Companies Join Together to Support Better Work

A program to improve labor standards and competitiveness in factories overseas

L-R: Rajan Kamalanathan (Walmart), Ayesha Barenblat (Business for Social Responsibility), Adam Greene (USCIB), Amanda Tucker (Nike), Laura Rubbo (The Walt Disney Company), Michael Kobori (Levi Strauss & Co.), Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, Dan Henkle (GAP Inc.), Ros Harvey (Better Work program).
L-R: Rajan Kamalanathan (Walmart), Ayesha Barenblat (Business for Social Responsibility), Adam Greene (USCIB), Amanda Tucker (Nike), Laura Chapman Rubbo (The Walt Disney Company), Michael Kobori (Levi Strauss & Co.), Cambodian Minister of Commerce Cham Prasidh, Dan Henkle (GAP Inc.), Ros Harvey (Better Work program).

Washington, D.C., November 19, 2009 – Five of the biggest U.S. companies are backing an international program to improve compliance with labor standards and competitiveness in the factories where some of their products are made.

The five companies – Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Walmart and The Walt Disney Company – will collectively contribute more than $1 million to Better Work, a unique joint program of the International Labor Organization and the International Finance Corporation, the private-sector lending arm of the World Bank.  These contributions will support the development of assessment and training tools that will have direct impacts in supplier factories.

Better Work brings together governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and global companies to address working conditions in supplier factories.  The program assesses compliance with international labor standards and national labor laws, posts reports online and provides targeted remedial training to improve compliance with labor standards as well as the competitiveness of the factory.

The program has been very successful in applying an evidence-based approach to monitoring and improving working conditions in developing countries.  The successful Better Factories Cambodia project has resulted in high levels of compliance and improvements that have been sustained despite reduced exports.

Jane Stewart, director of the International Labor Organization’s New York office.

Better Work has expanded services to several other developing countries, where it has already benefited 1.2 million workers and their families by improving working conditions and compliance with labor standards and wage and hour laws.  More country programs are planned over the next five years, expanding the scope of Better Work’s collaborative approach to even more factories.

“Better Work is a perfect example of a public-private collaboration with measurable benefits,” stated Peter M. Robinson, president and CEO of the United States Council for International Business (USCIB), in announcing the decision today.  “By bringing all stakeholders together in a collaborative approach, Better Work is helping to create sustainable change.

“But more support is needed if the program is to have maximum effect.” Mr. Robinson said. “We call on other companies to join with us in financially supporting this great initiative.”

USCIB represents American business interests internationally, including in the ILO where it is the U.S. employer constituent, serves on the ILO Governing Body, and leads the U.S. employer delegation to the ILO’s annual International Labor Conference.  Most of the company contributions to Better Work will be administered by the United States Council Foundation.

USCIB promotes open markets, competitiveness and innovation, sustainable development and corporate responsibility, supported by international engagement and prudent regulation.  Its members include top U.S.-based global companies and professional services firms from every sector of our economy, with operations in every region of the world.  With a unique global network encompassing leading international business organizations, USCIB provides business views to policy makers and regulatory authorities worldwide, and works to facilitate international trade and investment.  More information is available at www.uscib.org.

Contacts:

Adam Greene, USCIB, +1 (212) 703-5056, agreene@uscib.org

Louise Callagy, Gap Inc., press@gap.com

Kelley Benander, Levi Strauss & Co., +1 (415) 501-7598, kbenander@levi.com

Kate Meyers, Nike, +1 (503) 724 9086, Kate.Meyers@nike.com

Jami Lamontagne, Walmart, +1 (479) 273-4314, jami.lamontagne@wal-mart.com

Jonathan Friedland, The Walt Disney Company, +1 (818) 560-8306

Staff Contact:   Gabriella Rigg Herzog

VP, Corporate Responsibility and Labor Affairs
Tel: 212.703.5056

Gabriella Rigg Herzog leads USCIB policy and programs on corporate responsibility, international labor standards and corporate governance. She manages USCIB engagement with its affiliated organizations, U.S. government agencies, and United Nations agencies on international corporate responsibility principles, codes of conduct and multi-stakeholder initiatives, as well as international and transnational regulatory activities on labor and employment policies, sustainable development and corporate governance.
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