Civil Society Case Study: Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business

"Whenever problems in an industrial zone or a factory are mentioned in social media, we can turn to the OAR to find out which brands’ suppliers might be affected."

Case Study 1: MCRB and local labor organizations find brands to whom they can report factory conditions

After the military takeover in Myanmar in February 2021 and the following crackdowns on demonstrations, many trade union leaders in the garment sector went into hiding. However, factories continued to operate, and where they were unable to sort problems out directly with management, workers were forced to turn to other supportive labor organizations to help them with complaints about factory conditions. The workers and labor organizations were sometimes able to identify the brands sourcing from the factory concerned, but they lacked contact with them. They asked the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business for help.

Using a combination of OAR data, MCRB contacts and additional desk research, MCRB was able to alert Sourcing Managers at affiliated brands to possible problems in their supplier factories.

As these brands were already concerned about the situation in Myanmar, MCRB was able to quickly connect them to labor organizations who could give them another pair of eyes to share specific factory conditions and the wider situation on the ground for workers, which helped brands both investigate specific complaints and better support their ongoing heightened due diligence in the region.

Case Study 2: The OAR helped MCRB build a better picture of the apparel sector in Myanmar.

Brands have been facing questions about whether there is significant involvement of the Myanmar military in the sector, given that two of Yangon’s thirty or so industrial zones are owned by military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. MCRB used the OAR to identify brands who appeared to have previously sourced from these zones, and contacted them for an update. The information was combined with other sources of company and investment information, and incorporated into a factsheet on the sector, published by the European Chamber of Commerce in Myanmar. The data demonstrates the very limited nature of military involvement, and that almost all brands have already ended the few supplier relationships they had with factories in the zones in question.

At MCRB, we love maps and the transparency they bring to investment and ESG risks. Whenever problems in an industrial zone or a factory are mentioned in social media, we can turn to the OAR to find out which brands’ suppliers might be affected. We’ve also let labour groups and employers associations know about this really useful resource.

Vicky Bowman, Director of Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business is an initiative to encourage responsible business activities throughout Myanmar. The Centre is a joint initiative of the Institute for Human Rights and Business (IHRB) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR).