Worker-driven social responsibility

Modern slavery, wage theft and safety breaches in a companies operations or suppy chains can result in significant reputational and legal risks.

In response to significant consumer and investor pressure, many corporations have implemented corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives to monitor and deliver compliance. These CSR initiatives almost exclusively rely on social audits to monitor supplier compliance and have consistently—and in many cases tragically—failed to detect safety breaches and labour rights abuses.

Decades of research into workplace compliance initiatives in global supply chains have found that private compliance initiatives (PCIs), which may use mechanisms such as "codes of conduct, auditing, certification schemes or other self-reporting mechanisms", are insufficient to effectively manage business and operational risks from labour violations in supply chains.[1]

The only compliance initiatives that work are those that include a formal role for workers and their representatives (including trade unions) in compliance: worker-driven social responsibility (WSR) initiatives.

ACCR has been engaging companies (and their investors) on whether their compliance initiatives include the following elements:

  • Supplier accreditation and compliance is determined through a multi-stakeholder approach, involving workers and the representative organisation(s) of their own choosing.
  • Workers receive peer-led labour rights education with the involvement of representative organisation(s) of their own choosing.
  • Grievance procedures are led by workers, and involve the representative organisation(s) of workers’ own choosing in the resolution of complaints.


ACCR’s current focus is on lead companies in horticulture and commercial cleaning supply chains.


  1. ILO (2016). Workplace Compliance in Global Supply Chains, https://www.ilo.org/sector/Resources/publications/WCMS_540914/lang--en/index.htm, pp.10 – 15; Ethical Trading Initiative (2004) “Putting Ethics to Work”, http://www.ethicaltrade.org/Z/lib/annrep/2004/en/index.shtml; World Bank (2003) “Strengthening Implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility in Global Supply Chains”, http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPSD/Resources/CSR/Strengthening_Implementatio.pdf ↩︎

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