Target’s Teaming Up with Global Sourcing Experts to Help End Forced Labor

June 26, 2017 - Article reads in
Factory workers participate in a LaborLink mobile survey

Since we announced our responsible sourcing aspirations last year, Target teams and partners have been hard at work making progress on the framework we laid out.

“The responsible sourcing aspirations are guiding Target’s work to ensure the products we deliver to our guests are made ethically and responsibly,” says Kelly Caruso, president, Target Sourcing Services. “Our decisions have the potential to impact millions of people around the globe, from the people who create our products to the families they support and the communities where they live.”

One of those aspirations? A commitment to eliminating forced labor—which means we’ll monitor for forced labor throughout our supply chain and take swift action to eliminate it if discovered.

“We know that’s something we can’t do alone,” Kelly says. “So we’ll tap the industry expertise of Laborlink, Verité and others to help us accelerate the work that we’re doing through new technologies, community engagement programs, more robust standards and training with our suppliers over the next several years.”

Last year, Target CEO Brian Cornell joined the board of the Consumer Goods Forum and agreed to champion the group’s Resolution on Forced Labor. The commitment includes the adoption of three key principles: that every worker should have freedom of movement, no worker should pay for a job and no worker should be indebted or coerced to work. Target also recently endorsed the WEST Principles (more on that below), which will help us make big progress toward our goal of improving worker well-being across the supply chain.

And today, the team is announcing new partnerships with Laborlink and Verité. Take a closer look at these programs and what we hope to accomplish together.


An initiative powered by nonprofit Good World Solutions, Laborlink is a mobile platform that establishes a two-way communication channel for migrant workers to share opinions and needs in real-time, and for organizations to send educational messages directly to workers.

Together, we’re kicking off an 18-month project in Northern India where migrant workers from eight factories and 10 villages will be invited to participate in free and anonymous Laborlink surveys focused on working and living conditions and recruitment practices. Survey results will be used to help guide local NGO partners on how to build educational programs to best address the needs of community members. Then, voice messages will be sent to community members to reinforce key elements of the NGOs’ trainings.

“By engaging with workers and community members directly, we can better understand the risks of forced labor at the local level,” says Beth Holzman, acting executive director of Laborlink by Good World Solutions. “This data collected creates an opportunity to inform and strengthen tangible actions that can be taken to prevent and reduce the number of workers who become entrapped in situations of forced labor.” 

Target’s partnership will be the first to use Laborlink at this scale to gather information on factors of forced labor at the community level. Here’s the timeline of what the partnership will include.

Survey 8 factories to:
Map common migration corridors and identify source regions for potential human trafficking
Identify knowledge gaps and key forced labor concerns
Survey 10 source villages to gather information at the community level. Baseline survey results will inform NGO trainings for community members about risks of forced labor
Reinforce key elements of the NGO trainings via mobile push messages to raise community awareness of issues and factors to prevent forced labor and human trafficking
Re-survey community members in the 10 source villages to measure impact of NGO trainings
FALL 2018
We'll provide survey data to NGO partners to influence future programming


The nonprofit provides consulting, training, research and assessment services to businesses worldwide that help workers operate under safe, fair and legal conditions. We enlisted their help to develop policies to protect foreign contract workers in our supply chain—setting clear expectations for suppliers and laying out procedures, standards and verification mechanisms that’ll help us zero in on risk areas. Here’s the plan:  

Develop a Foreign Worker Standard
Conduct Foreign Worker assessments at select factories
FALL 2017
Hold supplier trainings to train factories on the new standards (in riskiest markets)
Conduct verification audits

WEST Principles

In addition to partnerships with Laborlink and Verité, Target has signed on as one of the early endorsers of the WEST Principles. The WEST Principles (which stand for Worker Engagement Supported by Technology) are a commitment to use emerging technologies to engage workers in global supply chains to address the risks of abuse and exploitation. By signing on, we join other brands, manufacturers and NGOs in a commitment to the eight principles:

  • Starting with integrity and purpose
  • Using worker-centric and inclusive design
  • Building trust with workers
  • Facilitating uptake and ownership
  • Managing security and risk
  • Analyzing engagement and impact
  • Informing decisions and system changes
  • Collaborating and sharing learnings

Driving meaningful progress takes time—but as the work continues, we’ll report on our progress each year in our Corporate Social Responsibility Report. And as industry needs evolve, we’ll continue to iterate, update and set new goals to keep making a bigger impact.

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