Levi’s and Harvard University launch blockchain pilot for worker welfare

Levi Strauss & Co. has partnered with Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health to pilot a worker’s welfare initiative that will utilize blockchain technology.

The aim of the program is to better understand the wellbeing of its factory workers in real time and react accordingly because, according to the denim brand, “what’s good for workers is also good for business”.

The program features an annual worker survey, with questions developed by the School’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) center. The garment worker’s responses will then live on a blockchain platform powered by ConSensys, thus enabling a transparent and secure way for workers to share their experiences anonymously, with no fear of consequences.

It will be piloted this year at three factories in Mexico who produce for the brand, and together employ 5,000 workers.

“For the last 25 years, work in supply chains has been monitored mainly by audits,” said Dr. Eileen McNeely, director at SHINE. “A distributed system of inquiry on the blockchain that goes right to the source (workers) offers a new solution.”

The initiative is part of Levi’s’ existing Worker Well-being (WWB) program launched in 2011, which sees the company partner with its suppliers and local organizations to implement change focused on giving its workers financial empowerment, health and family wellbeing, and equality and acceptance. The program, which since its inception has reached over 200,000 workers globally, is available open-source.

“One of the aspirations of Worker Well-being is to influence the apparel industry and make WWB the standard for the sector,” says Kim Almeida, director of WBB at the Levi Strauss Foundation. “We believe that the SHINE work, in partnership with LS&Co., will provide an important tool that gets us one step closer to making this goal of scaling our approach a reality.”

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