Capacity building as key to success

Capacity building with the ALDI Factory Advancement Project

Audits are an important tool for identifying problems and initiating improvements. However, since they are only snapshots of a situation, we recognise that they have their limits. Long-term changes require intense cooperation based on trust, particularly within factories. While the Social Monitoring Programme focusses on the adherence to social standards in the supply chain, the ALDI Factory Advancement (AFA) Project goes one step further. This pilot project is a collaboration between ALDI SOUTH, ALDI North, its suppliers, the production facilities, and our partner Sustainability Agents on-site.

Dialogue-oriented approach to conflict resolution

The ALDI Factory Advancement Project targets the improvement of working conditions and the establishment of viable social relations in the factories. It is based on a cooperative, dialogue-oriented approach. Workers and managers learn to communicate more effectively, improve their skills, recognise problems together, and solve them efficiently. The training includes topics such as health and safety in the workplace, fire safety, wage issues, working hours, and discrimination.

20 production facilities that are strategically important for ALDI SOUTH were chosen as initial participants for the ALDI Factory Advancement Project. These pilot factories supply more than 40% of the apparel we buy in Bangladesh. Another 20 production facilities will be integrated into the project in 2016, and we plan to increase the share of our buying volume coming from production facilities participating in the project significantly.

Evaluation of the project shows initial success

The success of the project is evaluated regularly. In a number of cases, the trainings conducted have already led to structural improvements in the factories. Fire safety equipment and sanitary facilities have been modernised, drinking water facilities and cleaning systems have been overhauled, and the safety infrastructure has improved. In addition to structural and technical changes, dialogue between workers and managers on the improvement of processes is at the heart of this project.

Both workers and management report tangible improvements, such as a drop in employee turnover rates and sick leave, increases in productivity, and the development of competence models. In addition, feedback from the production facilities shows that employees’ ideas are considered more often and overall communication has improved.

At the request of the participants, following the end of the pilot project phase the training will be continued with a reduced scope for three additional years. (Insight: ALDI Factory Advancement Project) Additional social initiatives will be implemented as part of the ALDI Factory Advancement Project in future in collaboration with NGOs from Bangladesh such as Phulki and AWAJ.

For more information on environmental and social standards, see Internal and external audits and Achieving long-term improvements through multi-stakeholder initiatives