Our Current Stories on Supporting Our Communities
Global Social Development
HERproject Invests in Women
At Nordstrom, we take our role to ensure the well-being of factory workers who produce our Nordstrom-labeled merchandise seriously. With sourcing communities in more than 35 countries, we are continually looking for new ways to address a variety of issues—from labor conditions to education—that will protect factory workers' rights and improve their livelihood.
To do this, we partner with nonprofit organizations like Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), as their expertise combined with our commitment helps create fair and supportive working conditions for all. Our partnership with BSR on HERproject (Health Enables Returns) has helped us make meaningful progress in this area. HERproject is an initiative that strives to address the critical, unmet needs of female factory workers, such as better reproductive health education and increased awareness of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention. Through HERproject, we have been able to provide health "We want to have a positive impact on workers' lives that extends beyond the four walls of the factory." — Laura Hodgson, Nordstrom Social Responsibility education and services to workers in multiple factories throughout China's Guangdong, Jiangsu, Hebei, and Zhejiang Provinces.
Education as a tool for change
Women comprise more than half the workforce in China's manufacturing sector; however, many factory managers question the value of investing in reproductive health programs because of high turnover and a widely held belief that young women are sexually inactive. To help address this problem, HERproject raises awareness about the operational impacts of poor employee health and uses a peer education model to communicate about important topics in a cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable way.
"Investing in women just makes sense: It's good for the women, their families, their employers, and their communities," said Racheal Yeager, manager of HERproject for BSR. "And we have found that HERproject, as a women's health program, is a great way to start that investment—and gain significant returns."
Since HERproject began in 2007, thousands of female factory workers in the Nordstrom factory base have been impacted through information sharing and improved management-worker communication on health issues. Workers surveyed following the trainings demonstrate significantly improved knowledge of HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention, with 82 percent stating they have attained enough knowledge to protect themselves against infection, and 99 percent claiming they will share what they have learned with co-workers and friends. As an added benefit, workers trained as peer educators also receive exposure to leadership skills that will assist their future career development.
Factory managers also express positive results, noting that the peer educator training improves workers' organizational and presentation skills and fosters better relations between managers and workers overall.
"We want to have a positive impact on workers' lives that extends beyond the four walls of the factory," said Laura Hodgson, director of social responsibility for Nordstrom Product Group. "Providing workers with knowledge and support will positively impact their lives, and this ultimately impacts their performance at work."
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