Addressing Power Imbalance in Global Supply Chains

Gender Benchmark, Corporate Human Rights Benchmark and Pressure Points As Levers of Change

September 28, 2023
Banner for UNDP-WBA event 'Addressing Power Imbalance in Global Supply Chains'
Event Details

20 November 2023

14:30–17:00 Bangladesh Standard Time | 9:30–12:00 Central European Time

Virtual webinar

The World Benchmarking Alliance and UNDP are co-hosting a hybrid event on 'Addressing Power Imbalance in Global Supply Chains' that aims to: 

  • Share evidence and insights from WBA’s Gender Benchmark and Corporate Human Rights Benchmark
  • Introduce the “Pressure Points to Influence Corporate Decision Making and Facilitate Access to Remedy” project and issue briefs on benchmarking and shareholder activism
  • Foster multi-stakeholder dialogue around responsible business conduct, aiming to build trust between participants, identify shared priorities and opportunities for collaboration, and contribute towards greater corporate accountability.
  • Identify key issues, good practices and solutions to addressing gender and human rights challenges in apparel supply chains.
  • Explore how benchmarking can be used as a lever to address some of these challenges, and outline how it can be used by different actors to influence corporate decision making and facilitate access to remedy. 

This event has been shifted to a virtual webinar. If you had previously registered to attend in person, you will receive information on how to join virtually.


The ongoing global economic recovery remains precarious and uneven, characterised by multiple challenges. These include surging inflation, significant disruptions in supply chains, mounting pressures on labour markets, and unsustainable debt burdens in developing nations. Moreover, the highly unequal economic recovery is intensifying the sense of injustice felt by people worldwide. These conditions cast a cloud over the successful attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The most vulnerable populations, including women and children, bear the heaviest burdens during these crises. Women, in particular, face the constraints of lost jobs and livelihoods, disrupted schooling, and increased responsibilities for unpaid care work at home. Unless transformative and rapid steps are taken, far too many people will be left behind, particularly in Global South countries. The private sector, through its significant economic influence and extensive global supply chains, have a significant role to play.

In the last decade, there has been encouraging progress on  issues of responsible business conduct and corporate accountability, with voluntary and mandatory frameworks introduced to strengthen transparency and accountability of companies. To ensure that these global frameworks are and remain relevant for all stakeholders, multi-stakeholder dialogue on gaps and opportunities based on evidence is crucial. 

The World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) is a non-profit organisation holding 2,000 of the world’s most influential companies accountable for their part in achieving the SDGs. It does this by publishing free and publicly available benchmarks to measure and compare their policies and performance, and to identify gaps and good practices. In November, WBA will launch the Gender Benchmark together with the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), assessing some of the world’s most influential companies across a number of sectors, including the apparel industry.

The 1.7 trillion dollar apparel industry employs over 65 million people in the Asia Pacific region, accounting for 75% of the global garment workers worldwide. In Bangladesh, the 2nd largest exporter of readymade garments, the garment sector employs about 4.2 million people - of whom about 60% are women - and indirectly supports as many as 40 million people, or 25% of the population

Over a half of the garment companies assessed in WBA benchmarks have supply chain links to Bangladesh. Given this, WBA, in partnership with UNDP B+HR Asia, will be co-hosting the global benchmark launch in Dhaka, recognizing that the challenges faced by people in apparel supply chains in Bangladesh are intrinsically connected to the clothes people buy all over the world. Challenges and opportunities in the apparel supply chain are likely to resonate with those in other similar sectors. In an effort to acknowledge and address the power imbalance in these supply chains, this event aims to bring these conversations closest to those most affected by companies’ activities. It aims to bridge their local perspective and experiences rooted in their unique national and industry contexts, with global dialogues centred on responsible business conduct, especially with regard to gender equality and the protection of human rights.

The event is co-organized with UNDP’s Business and Human Rights in Asia (B+HR Asia) project. B+HR Asia works to promote business respect for human rights across Asia and the Pacific, and has recently partnered with Macquarie School of Law in setting up the Access to Justice Lab. The Lab was established because it seems that affected rights holders are not making full use of existing, albeit imperfect, remedial mechanisms. More importantly, affected individuals and communities may not be identifying or employing all available “pressure points” – which may directly or indirectly facilitate access to remedy – against corporate actors. Since not all pressure points may be equally effective against all corporations in every situation, the affected rights holders should know which ones to use in a specific case and in what combinations.  

In this context, UNDP and Macquarie University have developed a series of seven issue briefs on pressure points to influence corporate decision making. Since the first two issue briefs, namely those on “benchmarking” and “shareholder activism”, complement WBA’s Gender and Corporate Human Rights Benchmarks, these two issue briefs will also be launched during the event. 

Finally, the event will contribute to growing momentum on responsible business conduct in Bangladesh, including by building on discussions held during the first Bangladesh Business and Human Rights Week in February 2023.