Winning a Queen’s Award for Enterprise isn’t something most people take lightly. So, when we received the accolade for Sustainable Development last night it marked a unique moment in our history.
Since the company’s inception, we’ve made a commitment to drum into businesses the value of social responsibility at every point of our supply chain. This begins with a collaboration to ensure we’re sourcing high-quality but ethical products (that do not come at the expense of others). At the heart of this is our mission: to tackle challenging labour rights issues and falsification of audit information, driving improved human rights and working standards across the supply chain.
Initial activity is then bolstered by our social, ethical and environmental programme that enables long-term continuous improvement and awareness-raising through outcome-focussed programmes and project work. Put simply, we are advocating transparency in supply chains. Our belief is that the only way to create lasting change is to engage with our supply chain to support the local community, help to develop new skills and mindsets, and support them to take ownership of change. We have great experience in doing this at all of the factories we work with.
But change doesn’t come easily. Patience and co-operation is needed, and transparency is imperative. We ensure factories understand the advantages of improved worker benefit, which results in greater employee satisfaction and retention, lower HR costs, increased efficiency, greater profit and company growth.
How does this translate? Two key areas of focus are our HR solutions and worker management communications training. So, we engage with factory managers and workers at site level every six to eight weeks, assessing root causes of labour issues. We provide practical training workshops, through a modular programme and capacity-building projects.
As a result of our working practices, we’ve seen profound change. Now, 80 per cent of our factories have implemented a more robust hiring policy with respect to young worker labour and verification of age records. This has significantly reduced the risk of child labour by 100 per cent. Not forgetting that 66 per cent of factories have increased their rest days from two to four per month. In addition, commercial accident insurance has been bought for 100 per cent of our workers. We’ve even helped two factories set up effective trade unions, and three factories have freely elected worker representative committees.
Of course, this is just a glimpse of how we’ve improved the supply chain process. We continue to apply our learnings and make regular amendments to ensure we’re doing something that no-one else is doing in quite the same way. We place sustainable development at the centre of what we do, which is something even the Queen’s Awards committee has recognised in her 90th year and Matrix’s 20th year which makes such an accolade even more special.
Written by Charlie Bradshaw