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The Fair Labor Association’s New Dashboard Can Help Workers Earn a Living Wage

The Fair Labor Association (FLA) has put together a brand new resource for brands looking to employ workers in areas prone to exploitation—a dashboard packed with worker and wage data from all over the world.

Thanks to a 15,000 euro commitment from ASN Bank, the FLA has created a “web-based microsite” which will allow organizations to input their own wage data and see it visually compared with international standards.

In the beginning, it will be available exclusively to FLA affiliates, which are required to submit wage data already. However, the FLA hopes the simplicity and accessibility of the dashboard will attract more attention as the project grows and more data is collected.

“By simplifying data collection and reporting, and ensuring that companies are looking at the data collected and evaluated to the same standard, companies will be able to prioritize their attention to remediation efforts where the gaps are greatest,” Sharon Waxman, president and CEO of the FLA told Sourcing Journal.

Waxman and the FLA hope brands will use the new tool to better understand and contextualize the state of labor in the areas they decide to set up their supply chains, remembering, as workers in Ethiopia can attest, that the apparel industry is responsible for some of the lowest wages in the world.

“Far too often there is a significant gap between the average compensation for garment workers and a sustainable and fair wage,” Waxman explained. “Closing the wage gap is essential and requires coordination and cooperation from all sectors, including industry and government. We welcome ASN’s support for our ongoing work to track supply chain wage data as part of our shared vision of a future in which apparel workers receive fair pay in factories everywhere.”

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The FLA’s dashboard measures the average worker wage within a given facility by collecting and arranging data from several categories, including base wages, incentives, benefits and anything else that could be considered compensation. That data is then parsed into specific and comparable positions across facilities, making adjustments for misleading factors like overtime pay.

After handing over their data, employers can then compare the compensation policies of a particular factory or region visually on a “wage ladder,” which compares their stats with established living wage benchmarks and comparable local wages.

“Wage data collection is the cornerstone of the online dashboard, and we will define success of the project by the action that companies, factories, and civil society take jointly to achieve living wages for workers,” Waxman said. “The wage data that’s collected becomes the foundation from which companies can build a supply chain strategy based on factors beyond lowest cost.”

The dashboard, and the information found therein, will also be an important part of ASN Bank’s 2019 Living Wage Report, an initiative begun by a group known as Platform Living Wage Financials. Consisting of 11 financial institutions like ASN, the group both “encourages and monitors” investees engaged in addressing the issue of wage exploitation.

Like FLA’s dashboard, the project is just another way outside groups can help improve the apparel industry, Waxman says.

“Any time that we can demonstrate tangibly the gap between what workers make and living wage benchmarks, it draws attention and informs the discussion,” she noted. “Companies say they need solid data and context to inform conversations and decisions about sourcing, and our efforts are intended to raise awareness and promote solutions by providing that data in a unique context.”