Step 4: Monitor & communicate 4.1 Track progress
When it comes to long and complex supply chains, the knowledge that all stakeholders are receiving their appropriate share can often be difficult to obtain. It is therefore important to understand whether your living wages and living income policies and activities are being optimally implemented. To do so, it is necessary to monitor and document the effectiveness of your responses to mitigate the adverse impacts of absent living wages and income, thus ensuring continuous improvement.
Tracking and measuring the progress and the effectiveness of your responses should incorporate clearly defined indicators, as well as internal and external feedback that includes affected parties. In practice, you will need to:
1. Set indicators
Set indicators to monitor progress on living wages and living income. This is essential to monitor progress and to establish clear and transparent norms. Indicators can be designed by your company or by an external third-party. Examples of such indicators are:
Living wage indicators
- Use of credible living wage benchmarks.
- Proof of living wage payments to workers (e.g. take-home pay per worker).
- The gap between living and current wages.
- Proof of the existence of collective bargaining mechanisms.
- Suppliers’ commitment to living wages through commercial incentives and long-term contracts.
Living income indicators
- Net income from farm produce (men and women).
- Net income from other sources (men and women).
- Gap between living and current income.
- Food Security (sufficient quantity of food for all household members)
2. Perform periodic reviews
Perform periodic reviews with stakeholders and relevant parties in your supply chains to ensure that measures to mitigate or prevent risk are taken. Concerning this step, it is recommended to:
- Assess stakeholders’ relationships. This can help in establishing transparency throughout your supply chain and ensure that all workers and producers are compensated fairly.
- Consult impacted or potentially impacted parties, including workers, workers’ representatives, trade unions, farmers and farmer cooperatives.
3. Establish an effective monitoring system
Establishing an effective monitoring system can be done internally or by an external third-party. Options for tracking progress include audits, participatory monitoring and performance measuring, among others. In any case, be sure not to overload producer partners or local staff with data collection. Strong and trusting relationships with your suppliers will facilitate the use of participatory approaches for monitoring. Here are some examples of monitoring system methods:
Participatory monitoring, is an integral part of local capacity building and institutional development. This monitoring method may take more time and resources than audits, but they are more cost-effective, and experience shows that they are also more efficient.
In participatory monitoring:,
- Local populations are actively involved in the process rather than simply being sources of information.
- The role of stakeholders is to evaluate, while external people facilitate the process.
- The focus is on building stakeholder capacity for analysis and problem-solving. Stakeholders can design and create solutions to arising problems.
- Favourable conditions are established to generate commitment, so that future follow-up actions can be more easily implemented.
Example of participatory monitoring
The Gender Action Learning System
The Gender Action Learning System is a community-led methodology that aims to create more inclusive rural societies by promoting a household approach to empower rural women and youth. This approach uses participatory processes and tools to assist the adult members of the household, both men and women, to jointly plan their livelihoods, farming business, workload, share benefits equally and participate in joint decision-making. The Dutch NGO, Hivos, has worked to promote gender and business dynamics in coffee chains with this methodology, with results on improved food security and income in coffee households.
- ^ Hivos. (2020). https://www.hivos.org/program/upscaling-gender-action-learning-systems-methodology/
- ^ Hivos. (2014). Coffee Toolkit. Sustainable coffee as a family business. https://www.idhsustainabletrade.com/uploaded/2016/08/toolkit_total.pdf
Performance measurement focuses on regularly assessing the current state of things and tracking its performance over time, cost-effectively. This method is particularly interesting for companies and organisations interested in understanding the livelihood conditions of smallholders at farm and household level. The performance measurement method is characterised by an ongoing data collection process, the results of which can be used to complement more in-depth assessments.
- ^ Sustainable Food Lab, COSA, ISEAL, IDH. (2016). Towards a Shared Approach for Smallholder Performance Measurement: Common indicators and metrics. https://sustainablefoo.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Shared-Approach-Small-Holder-Performance-Measurement-Common-Indicator-Metrics_012516_web_underlines-copy.pdf
Example of long-term monitoring
Keurig Dr Pepper
Keurig Dr Pepper (previously Keurig Green Mountain) in partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the University of Vermont examined the change in welfare of coffee smallholders in Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. Two baseline studies, one in 2007 and another in 2013, in the same countries and almost with the same sample, showed that seasonal hunger was a significant risk and made it possible to compare the changes in the livelihoods of coffee smallholders over time.
4. Evaluate progress through data
Learn from the data and, if needed, adjust or redefine your strategy to support adequate response to living wages and living income impacts. It can be useful to translate identified targets into incentive schemes for suppliers who follow the roadmap for raising smallholder’s income and worker’s wages to ensure living wages and living income. Incentive schemes engage suppliers through comprehensive and long-term contracts, payment of premiums, risk sharing, knowledge sharing and preferential sourcing.
Learning from data
Wagagai is one of the world's largest flower propagation companies of cuttings, based in the south of Uganda. They set their ambition to pay all their workers a living wage and for years they are on track to pay these living wages. By launching pilot projects and collecting data on the current situation and pay gaps, the company is able to adjust its strategy to improve the pay conditions of its workers.
- ^ Wagagai, Selecta One, Fairtrade International. (2017). https://maxhavelaar-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/download_item_file/file/212/MH_TheStoryofWagagai_A4_highres_DEF.pdf