"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes... a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
Facilitated conversations/meetings allow tiers within the supply chain web to share information in both directions creating greater understanding of the issues while building trust. Trust enables systemic solutions to problems that are often more complex than initially assessed. Businesses that align to a safe facilitated conversation/meeting process, such as that offered by Safe Space Collaboration, are committing to a long term approach to transparency and remedy rather than ordering in a distress purchase. The deployment of soft skills such as facilitation and mediation to achieve understanding and action creates greater value to relationships than those achieved through audit. Through soft skills many more nuances and undertones can be uncovered which can lead to better understanding of the root causes. If collaborating with suppliers on human rights through facilitated conversations becomes part of an organisations modus operandi and general expectations of how business will be done then members of staff can then be trained appropriately to use those soft skills in their day to day roles.
THE SAFE SPACE CONCEPT
The Facilitated Meeting or Conversation.
The principal features of a facilitated conversation/meeting are that it:
Is a safe conversation, in a safe space and in safe hands
Involves a neutral third party to facilitate honest, open discussion and collaboration
Is without prejudice and confidential
Involves spokespersons with sufficient authority to agree and commit to an action plan;
Is flexible, enabling the process to be designed and managed by the Facilitator/Mediator to suit the parties, in consultation with them;
Enables the parties to devise solutions which are practicable, creative and may not be achieved through standard routes;
Ensures equal voice to all parties so correcting power imbalances.
WE SUPPORT AND FACILITATE BUSINESSES IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN WEB TO COLLABORATE SO PROACTIVE SUSTAINABLE CHANGE CAN BE IMPLEMENTED FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES, BUSINESSES AND THE COMMUNITIES THEY OPERATE IN.
The Heart of the Matter.
At its heart a facilitated meeting is tough on the issues and kind to the people involved. It encourages resolution to deliver significant change and improvement whilst taking into account reputational risk, allowing business and operational continuity and doing what is right for the potential victims involved. Remedial mechanisms that provide accountability and a clear action plan to enable the correction and prevention of further modern slavery practices or adverse human rights impacts are fundamental to systemic change.
The alternative, to the proactive method of facilitated conversations and the associated beneficial actions are: complex grievances, lost management time in crisis management, unbudgeted costs such as deep dive audits, litigation risk and cost with the associated reputational damage and loss of customers or suppliers. What responsible business would take on that type of risk especially when unbudgeted costs come out of the P and L account?
THE UN GUIDING PRINCIPLES ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND BUSINESS
Clearly outline effectiveness criteria for non judicial grievance mechanisms such as facilitated meetings:
In order to ensure their effectiveness, non-judicial grievance mechanisms should be:
A source of continuous learning
Based on engagement and dialogue
The Safe Space Collaboration approach supports these effectiveness criteria and as such is worth businesses considering as a key strategic tool for overcoming the issues that contribute to modern slavery and human rights abuses within their supply chains. In a time when business is searching for a method to go beyond audit, Safe Space Collaboration provides a clear route to do just that.