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IDH Electronics Program

Innovative workforce management improves working conditions and environmental performance, resulting in stronger business competitiveness.

Executive summary

The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), together with Dell, HP, Philips, Apple and civil society organizations, developed a program to improve the working conditions, environmental performance and sustainable manufacturing across 100 electronics factories in China, covering 500,000 workers. This program lasting from 2013 – 2015 was funded by IDH, Dell, HP, Philips, Apple and Nokia.

The IDH program for electronics was part of a broad ranging initiative supported by the Dutch government and private sector partners to drive improvements in sustainable trade globally.

The innovative focus of the IDH Electronics Program was the development of effective worker-management dialogue to strengthen continuous improvement by local manufacturers, as a prerequisite to addressing the root causes of social and environmental performance issues.

Scope of services

ELEVATE served as IDH’s implementation partner in China, together with the Economics Rights Institute. Together, the partners facilitated the development and implementation of detailed improvement programs for participating brands and their supply chain partners. 

The IDH Electronics Program included 4 steps:

  • A detailed review of business and social performance profile, referred to as the Entry Point Assessment (EPA).
  • The development of a detailed work plan.
  • Implementation program interventions and improvements in the work-plan.
  • Detailed measurement and monitoring with progress reporting through monthly KPIs.

Challenges

Many regions in China have faced labor shortages. The new generation of workers also have vastly different expectations on career and work conditions compared to their predecessors. These realities will present companies with labor challenges for years to come.

The electronics industry urgently needed to invest in accelerating innovation in workforce management, bringing together employers and worker representatives to identify needs, issues and implement solutions. 

Innovative workforce management would improve working conditions and environmental performance, resulting in stronger business competitiveness.

Program impact

A wide variety of training on labor, health & safety and environmental performance was carried out; however, the innovative focus of the IDH Electronics Program is the development of effective worker-management dialogue to strengthen the ‘continuous improvement muscle’ of local manufacturers, as a prerequisite to addressing the root causes of social and environmental performance issues.

Benefits of the program for factories:

  • Enhanced productivity
  • Better management and communication with workers
  • Excellence in sustainability and competitiveness
  • Reduced EICC auditing pressure from your brands
  • Improved Environment Health & Safety
  • Better understanding on how to motivate workers
  • More satisfied workers
  • Reduction in worker turnover
  • Reduction in the risk of labor disputes

Benefits of the program for workers:

  • Opportunities for career development
  • Involvement in dialogue with management
  • Better communications on suggestions for improvement
  • Better working conditions
  • Greater employment satisfaction