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Empowering our suppliers: training that transforms lives

Worker empowerment for our supply chain partners 

We aim to leverage the scope and breadth of our supply chain to make a positive impact on our industry. This extends to our suppliers, their workers, and through them, their communities. To achieve this, in 2016, we came up with an ambitious idea to invest in learning opportunities for our suppliers’ employees, an initiative that aligns with our sustainability strategy, and in particular with the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 Quality Education.

We embedded this commitment into one of our 2020 community goals, namely to improve the technical and vocational skills of manufacturing employees by partnering with an NGO to develop and implement a Worker Empowerment Training Program at 20 supplier sites.

To support this goal, in 2017 we launched the Flex Worker Empowerment Training Program aimed to bolster the capacity of key supervisors and future production leaders in our supplier partners. BSRTM, our program development and implementation partner, conducted a global research project to uncover the drivers and trends related to factory worker skills and upskilling. The project included both primary, on-the-ground research as well as secondary information sources.

The research project outcome led to a blueprint for the training program. We piloted the project with 3 suppliers: 2 in Guadalajara, Mexico and 1 in Dongguan, China. The project benefited more than 1,000 employees and we are committed to expanding it to cover 20 suppliers within the next 2 years. 


A sustainable training system to align worker skillsets with industry needs

This program focuses on developing a universal workforce development training program for our factory partners. The curriculum will offer basic learning opportunities to all workers and provide additional enhanced opportunities for self-motivated high-performers.

It aims to enhance factory supervisors’ capacity and future worker leaders through a combination of offline Train of Trainer (TOT)  and online training, as well as internal roll-out trainings inside the factories. 

Offline ToT training

The offline ToT training is for supplier human resources staff and production supervisors selected in each factory and covers topics on work and life skills. The training’s purpose is to build worker capacity in a comprehensive way to help the factory identify future leaders and to prepare the future trainers for their internal training system.  

Online training

BSR™ worked with a third party provider to offer online training to all workers based on their needs and individual career paths. The online delivery maximized the training’s impact as workers in the pilot program were able to complete it at any time. The training also helped identify high potential candidates. 

Worker empowerment - in their own words 

Two men giving presentation
This course was very dynamic because with one exercise we were able to understand the importance of production planning and what this implies in terms of human resources, waste, raw materials and how the optimization of resources impacts the company.
- Manager at a supplier’s factory in Guadalajara, Mexico

"Thanks to the Flex Worker Empowerment Training Program I have been able to improve my self-confidence. Before the trainings I felt very insecure when making decisions, however, the training allowed me to improve my communication skills and helped me to be more determined. I really liked that the program gave me the opportunity to have a space to be with other supervisors and to learn, to express myself and be heard. I also developed skills which allow me to work better with my team. I am a better leader. I have also improved my relationships with my family. That's why I feel motivated to teach everything we learned to my fellow colleagues. I feel motivated and confident to transmit my learnings.” 

- Manufacturing supervisor at a supplier’s factory in Guadalajara, Mexico

" I think all the senior supervisors and management should come to these trainings!  Some of the trainings, such as supervisor responsibility, teamwork spirit and team building, answer exactly to our challenges here.  If the senior management also know how to optimize the working process, it can save a lot of time and reduce a lot of waste.”

- General Manager Assistant in a supplier factory in China


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