Our ability to help deliver major infrastructure programs relies on construction workers who make our clients’ visions a reality. On some infrastructure projects, there is little to no local construction labor, so non-native workers must be recruited into the country. These people often endure great hardship to secure and perform their jobs. CH2M does not recruit or employ construction workers in the Middle East and rarely elsewhere. However, in our role as program manager and engineering consultants, we exert our influence by advising clients on how to meet international labor standards and by collaborating with key stakeholders to improve conditions for workers.
We aspire to be at the forefront of our industry, acting as a catalyst for change, both on our projects and in the wider communities in which we work. We are continuously improving our services to clients in the worker welfare area by engaging with relevant stakeholders and drawing from international best practices.
CH2M engaged a world-renowned fair labor expert, Verité, to help develop a global Worker Welfare Policy, which applies to our operations and suppliers. We share the policy with clients and partners to guide their worker welfare best practices. The policy's provisions and requirements apply to CH2M and all of the contractors in our supply chain that work on projects on behalf of CH2M. In addition, we share this policy with our clients and collaborate with other firms to encourage adherence.
Following our Worker Welfare Policy, we apply screening procedures for all new suppliers based on social criteria. If the suppliers do not comply fully with our Worker Welfare Policy, we review their worker welfare practices and management plans and their commitment for continuous improvement. In most cases, we can work with the supplier to help them achieve our standards. If they do not comply with our policy in an agreed-upon timeframe, we cancel the contract.
On major infrastructure projects, workers typically provide feedback via written forms and hotlines. We believe that technology can be used to create more effective mechanisms, so we formed a partnership with Humanity United and Caravan Studios to collaborate on a new mobile technology for workers to submit anonymous feedback on their living and working conditions. This information is available to supervising engineering and construction firms through a program management dashboard, allowing companies to act on worker complaints in a timely manner. After piloting and testing is complete, we will promote this tool across the industry.
We cannot solve the challenges of worker welfare alone. Because systemic change must occur at an industry-level, we openly share our policy, toolkit and best practices with our peer companies. In partnership with the Institute for Human Rights and Business, we have hosted roundtables to promote industry collaboration on human rights. Participants have represented over 15 major engineering and construction firms, clients, human rights groups and high-level government officials. In partnership with Humanity United and BSR (Business for Social Responsibility), CH2M supported a research initiative to determine the best path forward for formalizing this effort into a new industry organization focused on preventing modern slavery in the engineering and construction industry. Under CH2M’s leadership, this effort resulted in a new industry group, Building Responsibly, to promote the rights and welfare of workers. Five other major engineering and construction firms have joined as founding members.
Public policy engagement
CH2M strategizes with key government officials in the United States, United Kingdom and Middle East on how to improve the conditions of migrant construction workers. We support the UK government’s introduction of legislation on modern slavery and are raising awareness about the Modern Slavery Act 2015 across our sector. We have collaborated with the UK government to cohost industry roundtables to educate other engineering and construction companies on how to comply with the act.