CARE Internationals Cambodia unit has been working since 2014 to address workplace sexual harassment in factories

CARE International's Cambodia unit has been working since 2014 to address workplace sexual harassment in factories

Manufacturers employing more than 30,000 people have been helped to improve how they prevent and respond to sexual harassment thanks to an initiative between Better Factories Cambodia (BFC) and aid organisation CARE International.

The two are also challenging the perception that reports of sexual harassment may have negative impacts on factory compliance assessments. 

CARE International's Cambodia unit has been working since 2014 to address workplace sexual harassment in factories, and has developed a prevention package that has been recommended by Better Factories Cambodia as an effective way for factory managers to tackle the issue.

The partnership has seen BFC's factory assessments evaluate whether sexual harassment is taking place, with CARE's gender advisor providing training to BFC staff on gender and sexual harassment to improve their ability to recognise this in all its forms.

CARE's training team has also joined BFC's assessors to explore what they look for during factory visits and help standardise their approach. And with CARE's technical experts helping revise the guidelines, BFC has been able to improve its ability to come to an accurate conclusion about the likelihood of sexual harassment occurring in a factory.

However, one of the challenges is engaging factories on the issue, with factory owners concerned an increased number of sexual harassment reports could impact their compliance assessment. BFC's assessments are mandated by the government to be conducted annually and are linked to a company's export licence, meaning factories have a vested interest in maintaining a positive reputation.

The two organisations are now working to challenge the perception that compliance is linked to the absence of reports. Both organisations are speaking out about the value of proactive complaint/grievance response mechanisms backed by solid workplace policies, emphasising that effective systems to prevent and respond are the best way to show compliance.