WORK+SHELTER provides women in India a safe place to work, gain stability, and make a fair wage. Each woman has her own story of hardship. Some have had to make tough decisions on whether to eat or send their children to school, have suffered through forced arranged marriages, or have even endured coerced abortions (oftentimes when their family learns they are pregnant with a girl, since daughters are largely considered undesirable because of the outlawed but still prevalent practice of dowry). Their choices are limited.
Thus, access to paid training at WORK+SHELTER and a consistent income is transformative. Many companies in the garment industry pay a piece wage, and employ people only when they have work. At WORK+SHELTER the women are paid no matter what. This consistency allows them to plan and save, oftentimes for the first time in their lives.
The World Fair Trade Organization provides ten guidelines that are the central tenants to fair trade employment. These tenants are employed at WORK+SHELTER in the following ways:
We employ nearly 70 men and women in need, including but not limited to women who are divorced, widowed, victims of abuse, or sole earners for their families.
WORK+SHELTER provides a clear and transparent career path, with four different role “tiers.” Each employee within these employment tiers is paid the same amount, with an additional daily performance-based bonus opportunity. Further, twice daily team meetings ensure the women have access to a forum where they can share their feedback or concerns.
At WORK+SHELTER the women are paid whether or not the product they have made sold, the commissioning client has paid, or whether or not there is work for them to do. To that end, we ask our clients to pay at least 50% down on their orders so that we can extend the same courtesy to our employees, timely payment for work completed. Employees are also offered access to retirement and health insurance options.
Women at WORK+SHELTER are paid significantly more than the industry average, including 5x or more what they could be earning elsewhere. They are paid fairly, regularly, and given the opportunity to earn raises and promotions.
We do not employ children, and we ensure we do not work with vendors who employ child labor. We also mandate that employee’s children are enrolled in school. As for our employees, overtime hours are optional, and women are employed based on their own free will.
WORK+SHELTER does not discriminate based on gender, caste, class, religion, or any other category. Women in need are offered priority in our hiring process. Employees are free to organize as they see fit.
We offer water coolers and air conditioning in every working room. The women sit in padded chairs and work tables were specially built to accommodate their height, providing a more comfortable and safe work environment. There are three exits on our main floor, and the roof of the building provides access to the roof of the neighboring building in case of fire or emergency. There are two fire extinguishers as well as first aid kits in the working area that are easily accessible to the women. The building has running water, and sterilized water is provided for drinking. Two bathrooms that are always open, stocked with soap, and available for use at any time. The women are not penalized for frequency of bathroom breaks and their usage is not monitored or tracked. The women we employ work 8 hours per day and are provided with chai breaks twice daily. They are paid double for optional overtime hours.
At WORK+SHELTER trainees are entered into our paid training program where we teach them the skills they need to work effectively. If the trainee successfully completes our program, we offer her a permanent role and increase her wages. Many of our employees have never worked in formal work environments and have extremely limited educational experience. WORK+SHELTER provides them with dignified work they otherwise would not have access to.
We promote fair trade by providing our clients with insight into our production process and access to our production premises. Visitors are welcome to stop by between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM between Monday and Friday. We send pictures of the production process and are happy to provide live video tours of our space upon request. We also share supply chain information with our clients and are happy to facilitate vendor tours.
Over 95% of materials used at WORK+SHELTER are organic or recycled (with dye water cleaned before being released into the city sewage system). Further, fabric scraps are donated and turned into usable products, and then donated to other non-profits in India.