Addressing power imbalance in global supply chains

The launch of the 2023 Gender Benchmark, 2023 Corporate Benchmark and “Pressure Points to Influence Corporate Decision Making and Facilitate Access to Remedy” project

20 November 2023 at 14:30–17:00 Bangladesh Standard Time | 9:30–12:00 Central European Time  


Join us in Dhaka, Bangladesh or online for this hybrid event hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) where we will:

  • share evidence and insights from WBA’s 2023 Gender Benchmark and 2023 Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, which assess the world’s largest and most influential companies – including companies in the apparel sector – on their corporate respect for human rights and responsibility to drive and promote gender equality and women’s empowerment across the value chain
  • launch the “Pressure Points to Influence Corporate Decision Making and Facilitate Access to Remedy” project and issue briefs on benchmarking and shareholder activism
  • identify good practices by companies as well as key issues and solutions
  • explore how benchmarking can be used by different actors to address challenges, influence corporate decision making and facilitate access to remedy.

Register to attend virtually



Keynote speaker

Md. Akhter Hossain, Principal Coordinator (SDG Affairs), Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Bangladesh

Panel A: Challenges, opportunities and solutions for gender equality and respect for human rights in Bangladesh’s garment sector

  • Kalpona Akter, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity
  • SK Jenefa K Jabbar, Director, Social Compliance and Safeguarding, BRAC
  • Sheikh H M Mustafiz, Chairman, Standing Committee on Sustainability, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA)

Panel B: Bridging the global-to-local gap in supply chains

  • Surya Deva, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development and Professor at Macquarie Law School
  • Dr. Carla Dohmwirth, Advisor, Initiative for Global Solidarity (IGS), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Saiful Millat, Network Representative Bangladesh, amfori
  • Måns Carlsson OAM, Head of ESG, Ausbil Investment Management

Moderated and presented by

  • Namit Agarwal, Social Transformation Lead, WBA
  • Harpreet Kaur, Business and Human Rights Specialist, UNDP B+HR
  • Sofía del Valle, Engagement Lead, WBA


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 responsibility to play their part.

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 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 second 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, recognising 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.

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