The Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) has collaborated with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to provide training for JAAF member organisations on policies and frameworks required to help create peaceful and respectful workplaces. This training will provide tools to effectively and adequately address bullying and harassment in the workplace. The training sessions will be followed by a monitoring and evaluation programme to ensure the effectiveness and impact of the tool kit and training provided.
As the first step is to ensure and solidify respect at the workplace, JAAF hosted a webinar on November 8 on ‘Building Respectful Workplaces’, which was conducted by IFC’s Women in Work programme manager Sarah Twigg and consultant gender and economic inclusion Gayani Ranasinghe, according to a press release by the JAAF.
Introducing the IFC Respectful Workplaces Focal Point Training for the apparel industry, Twigg highlighted the unseen costs Sri Lankan businesses bear due to workplace harassment. “This amounts to more than $1.7 million in the nine companies surveyed for the IFC study,” she deduced. Following the findings of the study, Ranasinghe elaborated that the IFC has looked at existing policies within companies that address allegations of harassment, misconduct, and investigation procedures and identified gaps to develop an ethical and fair reporting and complaint resolution procedure for companies to follow.
JAAF in collaboration with IFC has scheduled the conduct of training programmes in the coming months to enhance awareness of the topic in the industry. The apparel industry is committed to uplifting the working conditions for its employees given that it is one of the largest employers in the country, providing livelihoods for nearly one million people both directly and indirectly across 350 manufacturing plants island-wide.
The IFC’s Respectful Workplaces Programme aims to enhance business value by addressing gender-based violence and harassment including customer and client aggression, workplace bullying and sexual harassment, domestic and sexual violence, and sexual exploitation and abuse connected to the workplace. The programme supports the private sector in emerging markets to create safe and resilient workplaces by demonstrating the business case for action and providing businesses with advisory services, resources, and tools to help address germane issues.