Holistic Approaches to Tackling Workplace Exploitation
Taking the time to understand our customers’ unique challenges — really listening and involving them in the creation of solutions — is the best way to ensure we have a positive impact.
Rounding off our Best for the World™ series, Customers, Workers and Governance honouree, Fifty Eight, spoke to us about their incredible achievement.
We’ve been spotlighting UK BFTW B Corps. These businesses are recognised for a score in the top 5% of one or more of the 5 sections of the B Impact Assessment, showing that competing not only to be the best in the world, but the best for the world, is a winning strategy!
The customers section of the B Impact Assessment evaluates a company’s stewardship of its customers through the quality of its products and services, ethical marketing, data privacy and security and feedback channels. This section also recognises companies with production processes, products or services that have a positive social or environmental impact.
Fifty Eight is the UK’s highest scoring B Corp, with a B Impact Assessment score of 157! Through their work in responsible recruitment and supply chain solutions, they seek to create work opportunities that enhance quality of life, free from exploitation. We spoke to their Co-Founder and Director, Quintin Lake, about the ways they ensure their customers are at the forefront of their innovations.
Hi Quintin! Can you tell us a bit about how you are engaging underserved employees to reach underserved customers and the impact that this is having? Are there any challenges that you have faced with setting this up?
Quintin: One of the earliest challenges we started working on at Fifty Eight was trying to find solutions that could help prevent exploitation for migrant workers, who are particularly vulnerable when looking to move for work overseas. For many migrant workers, the reason they have to look overseas for a job is that there aren’t enough decent jobs available in their home country. When we first started trying to identify solutions for this challenge, we wanted to be able to engage with problem solvers who had direct knowledge of the issue.
In our case, this meant developing a team of programmers in Uganda. These programmers knew people personally who had been exploited going overseas for work, but also knew the unique technological and cultural requirements to develop a solution as well. As the team has grown, its success has meant we were able to directly provide more jobs in Uganda as we focus on reaching more underserved customers in different parts of the world. There are various challenges along the way — not least the fluctuating security of internet supply in Uganda, or developing the company culture across different time zones and nationalities — but the upsides have far outweighed the challenges!
Are there any other customer initiatives that you’re particularly proud of?
Quintin: Our work with The Very Group in our home city of Liverpool has been particularly special for us. We are excited to partner with a business in our region that is committed to championing responsible recruitment and employment practice. The close working relationship with them and their factory managers in Malaysia piloting the Just Good Work mobile app for migrant workers has enabled faster progress, which will benefit more workers and companies there. It’s great to work with others across the supply chain who are committed to achieving the common goal of safe, secure and good work for those who are often most vulnerable to exploitation.
What top piece of advice would you give to other businesses looking to have a positive impact on their customers?
Quintin: We have always felt that the best way to do this is to focus on how to serve the customer and help them overcome the challenges they are coming up against. Customers are always individuals — whether they are consumers or represent a business or other organisation — so we think taking time to really listen and understand their unique challenges and involving them in the creation of solutions is the best way to ensure we have a positive impact on them.
For example, we are partnering with the Arise Foundation to develop an app-based monitoring and evaluation tool for frontline modern slavery workers. We are building the technology collaboratively with Arise, and piloting it with frontline workers from very early in the process, to make sure the solution works for everyone.
You’ve been nominated for the workers, governance and customers BFTW lists which is incredible! Where do you see the links or connections between these areas of impact?
Quintin: Businesses, when at their best, have incredible potential to improve the quality of life for everyone connected to them — from customers, to staff, to their supply chain and wider community. Achieving that impact means we have to intentionally structure the business and the products/services we provide in a way that creates those positive outcomes. This extends even to the point of clearly articulating that structure in our articles of association, as all UK B Corps do so upon certification.
Our mission is to ensure good work for people everywhere, so we need to ensure the ways we serve our customers — our products and services — achieve that goal. Equally, our governance needs to create an environment where all company activities are aligned with the mission: this includes the impact we are having on staff, customers, suppliers and other partners as well. It also means we need to provide good work for our team, by making sure their skills and abilities are being used in the right ways and that they have time to develop and grow those skills alongside their core work.
What’s next on the cards for you?
Quintin: We are focusing on how we can develop solutions that really engage those who are most vulnerable to exploitation in supply chains — typically migrant workers and children. For example, overcoming literacy barriers and helping to create better pathways to good work. We especially want to find more effective ways of working together with others to achieve this — we certainly can’t do it alone!
How will you be celebrating your BFTW status?
Quintin: Our team is spread across the UK, Uganda, USA and France so everyone has to make/bring their own drinks! We’ll definitely be taking some time together to celebrate and look ahead to what we can be doing to continue learning from others and improving our impact!
If you are a B Corp, get in touch with Quintin on the B Hive with any questions and share any tips or experience you have on supporting your customers.
If you aren’t yet a B Corp, get started on the B Impact Assessment today and start measuring what matters most! Use this tool to assess your impact on your workers, community, environment and customers.
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