Project complete

Grievance mechanism project

A photo of a smiling South Asian farm worker in a field.

Strengthening channels for workers to raise issues in supply chains

This was a collaborative project implemented with Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) and the AIM-Progress Grievance Mechanism Working Group.

It worked with 19 suppliers to three member companies across 15 countries to improve their grievance mechanisms. Our goal was for workers to be able raise issues and concerns with their employers in a safe, trusted and transparent way.

14 months
Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS)
Young man in a group work setting, in discussion with others A photo of a young black woman in a distribution warehouse, wearing high-vis, having a discussion with colleagues.

Why the project was needed

Grievance mechanisms are an essential part of human rights due diligence – providing channels through which workers and communities can raise concerns and issues can be remedied. Operational grievance mechanisms at site-level are usually the first place where workers and communities raise concerns and workers need to be able to raise issues and concerns with their employer in a safe, trusted, transparent manner.

How it worked

This project focused on helping members’ closest suppliers know what actions to take when they receive a grievance from workers. Suppliers reviewed their grievance mechanisms using the Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) Grievance Mechanism Toolkit, developed by Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) for Reckitt. They then made improvements like adding in participatory processes to involve workers in the design and implementation of grievance mechanisms. Suppliers were encouraged to pay particular attention to the participation of, and impact on, women workers and vulnerable groups.

The project had six key stages:

  1. Self-assessment tool. This helped suppliers assess their maturity level against good practice, and used a traffic light system to highlight areas that needed more attention. It had direct links to the relevant sections within the grievance mechanism toolkit for guidance on those areas.
  2. Orientation webinar. Webinars were held for small groups of suppliers. They introduced the grievance mechanism toolkit and self-assessment tool, helped suppliers use them, emphasising the participatory nature of these processes and the importance of involving workers in them. Initial queries about implementation were also answered.
  3. Drop-in clinic. 90-minute progress and support drop-in sessions were held over four months. These were useful for participanting companies check on their progress, and recieve ad-hoc support when needed.
  4. Written feedback. Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) reviewed the suppliers’ grievance mechanism policies and the progress they had made. Feedback included recommendations from the grievance mechanism toolkit on further actions to take.
  5. Learning summary. Final experience and learnings were shared with participants.
  6. Roundup session. With their improved grievance mechanisms in place, suppliers were given a drop-in session six months after the project ended. They received advice on remediation, monitoring grievances and responses, and identifying bigger issues. These sessions also meant the project’s impact could be captured and supplier feedback was heard.

Our intended outcomes

The goal of the project was to provide a supported rollout of the grievance mechanism toolkit to a group of members’ direct suppliers and support them to

  • understand what grievance mechanisms are and why they’re important
  • identify what they need to do to strengthen their existing mechanisms
  • appreciate that involving workers and intended users is critical to their success.

Project collaborators