Decent Work in Global Supply Chains

Phase II: Tackling Working Poverty

Explore with peers and experts how respect for human rights and labour rights are critical to achieving the SDGs

Why Decent Work in Global Supply Chains?

Supply chains continue to be one of the most important levers for business to create a positive impact in the world, with an estimated 80% of global trade passing through them annually. Companies that commit to advancing decent work in supply chains can significantly improve the lives of many people — often of those who will benefit the most from sustainable development — and lift millions out of poverty:

  • 700 million working women and men in low and middle income countries are not earning enough to lift themselves and their families out of poverty
  • 25 million people are victims of forced labour
  • Over 150 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour

The Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Platform

The United Nations Global Compact launched the Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains in 2017 to build an alliance of companies who are committed to respecting human rights and fundamental principles and rights at work by leveraging their supply chains and taking collective action to address decent work deficits. This platform builds the case for improving decent work in global supply chains through sustainable procurement practices and engagement with suppliers, and demonstrates how labour rights and human rights are critical for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Action Platform 2018-2020 outputs include:

Why Working Poverty?

Work is a major route for many to escape poverty. However, working is not a guarantee for ending poverty if working conditions are not decent. In 2019, more than 630 million workers worldwide — almost one in five of all those employed — did not earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of extreme or moderate poverty.  Respect and support for human rights and labour rights are central to reducing poverty

Poverty is also the root cause of many human rights and labour rights violations. For example, child labour, forced labour and human trafficking are each deeply connected to poverty. Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies have a responsibility to respect human rights and labour rights in accordance with international standards which includes identifying and avoiding practices that perpetuate poverty traps. A company can do this by conducting human rights due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address actual and potential human rights and labour rights impacts in their own operations and supply chains. 

Companies should identify workers in their supply chains who are vulnerable to poverty as part of their human rights due diligence process. Businesses hold a powerful lever for reducing poverty in their capacity as employers, producers and buyers through ensuring decent working conditions for their employees and workers across the supply chain. This includes, for example, fair wages, reasonable working hours, and adequate health and safety measures for workers. Sustainable procurement practices create the conditions to ensure decent work, which in turn can address working poverty issues in global supply chains.

Take Action for Ending Working Poverty

Building on the experience and outcomes of the first phase of the UN Global Compact Action Platform on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, we now focus on developing strategies to reduce working poverty and re-think supply chains to transform them into engines of sustainable growth. Through this multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral platform, participants benefit and are motivated by the expertise and experiences of different companies, partners and organizations.

The objectives of the Action Platform are to develop best practice case studies and actions taken by companies to address decent work and working poverty, foster leadership and guidance on the topics, support policy and implementation and enhance existing initiatives focused on improving workers’ wages through collective action.

Join the Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform – Phase II to:
  • Raise ambition and be part of a platform of engaged companies to mobilize collective action at both the global and local level to advance respect for labour and human rights that translates SDG aspirations into practice
  • Learn and share meaningful practices and innovative approaches to drive working poverty reduction that is linked to business
  • Launch a business-led advocacy effort to promote and accelerate cross-sectoral action on tackling poverty (SDG 1 and SDG 8) by increasing wages, ensuring social protection benefits and adopting responsible purchasing practices.

Platform Activities

Participants in the Decent Work in Global Supply Chains Action Platform - Phase II have an exclusive opportunity to advance respect for human rights, fundamental principles and rights at work through:

Commitment to action
Thought Leadership

Be part of a business-led advocacy effort at the UN and take actions to move the needle on tackling working poverty in the workplace and supply chains by scaling efforts to improve worker rights and ensuring decent working conditions.

Build the case for improving decent work and tackling working poverty, help design more innovative systems to address human rights and labour rights in global supply chains, and contribute to a series of leadership briefs and good practices on the role of business in advancing decent work.

Local action
Global Roundtable Series

Participate in partnerships and support capacity-building at the local level to advance the SDGs on decent work and poverty reduction.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, these roundtable meetings bring business together with relevant UN representatives and experts to foster cross-sector learning, define priorities and set goals related to their decent work efforts. The in-person meetings are also complemented by an exclusive webinar series and online dialogue.


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    View the Full List in Who’s Involved
    Name Sector Country
    H & M, Hennes & Mauritz AB Personal Goods Sweden
    Novozymes Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology Denmark
    Global Green Chemicals Chemicals Thailand
    Restaurantes Toks S.A. de C.V. Travel & Leisure Mexico
    Daimler AG Automobiles & Parts Germany