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New app helps detect labour exploitation in supply chains, according to report

Author: Mekong Club and United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society, Published on: 9 October 2019

“Apprise Audit Impact Assessment: Detecting Labour Exploitation in Supply Chains”, 9 Oct 2019

Social compliance auditing is one of the key approaches companies use to assess working conditions in their supply chains. Yet, as traditional auditing frameworks often fail to capture actual working conditions and detect forced labour indicators, there is potential for technology to improve screening practices, according to a new report by The Mekong Club and the United Nations University Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS) ...

The report unveiled that the use of “Apprise Audit”, a mobile solution developed by UNU-CS and The Mekong Club helped improve the effectiveness of the overall worker interview process during social compliance audits. The mobile application offers an audio questionnaire in several languages, captures worker feedback and offers a real-time summary to the auditor while they are performing the audit. Data is saved on the content management system and can be retained and analysed by companies to better understand working conditions in manufacturing facilities, including detecting potential forced labour indicators.

“Talking to workers is one of the most critical aspects of social audits,” said Silvia Mera, Program Director at the Mekong Club… “… Our pilot demonstrated that workers, especially migrants and women, felt more comfortable sharing sensitive information through tech rather than talking to an auditor.”

“Apprise Audit was purposefully developed to be used by workers to raise concerns when there is someone immediately available to address them” – explained Dr Hannah Thinyane, Principal Research Fellow at UNU-CS…

The report offers an overview of the past 15 months of project activities: research conducted to assess the challenges that exist in current worker interview methods and the potential for technology to offer solutions, the design, and development of the app, and case studies observed during fieldwork in factories. The report also includes feedback from workers and auditors who have used the app during the pilot…

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