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November 17, 2022

Sri Lanka apparel sector tooled to tackle workplace bullying

A new initiative from the Sri Lanka Joint Apparel Association (JAAF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is looking at providing training on policies and frameworks required to help create peaceful and respectful workplaces.

By Shemona Safaya

This training will provide tools to effectively and adequately address bullying and harassment in the workplace in Sri Lanka. 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.

The International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) 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.

As the first step of the efforts to ensure and solidify respect at the workplace, JAAF said it hosted a webinar on November 8 on, ‘Building Respectful Workplaces’ conducted by IFC’s Women in Work program manager Sarah Twigg and its Gender and Economic Inclusion consultant Gayani Ranasinghe.

While introducing the training for the apparel industry, Twigg highlighted the unseen costs businesses in Sri Lanka bear due to workplace harassment. “This amounts to more than US$1.7m 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.

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.

This 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.

JAAF said it has joined forces with IFC and scheduled the conduction 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,” added the Lankan apparel association.

In late September, the apex body of Sri Lanka’s apparel industry JAAF, pledged absolute support to the ILO’s Better Work initiative demonstrating the industry’s deep commitment to prioritising people and their well-being.

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