Ulula | 2020 Canadian SDG Accelerators Awards Profile


Industry: Service Provider, Responsible Sourcing

Website: https://ulula.com/

Category: SME

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Applicable Targets:

  • Target 8.5. By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value
  • Target 8.7. Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms
  • Target 8.8. Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment

Please explain why the selected SDG is a priority for your company

In the Southern African language Chichewa, Ulula means to ‘reveal’. True to our name, Ulula’s mission is to support responsible and transparent business practices around the world through software and analytics to create a just society. Despite progress and commitment to the SDGs, the International Labour Organization estimates there are still nearly 25 million individuals caught in forced labour.  Through our stakeholder-voice technology, we seek to address Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8 by improving labour rights, working conditions, and preventing modern slavery and human trafficking through empowering vulnerable workers and communities to directly and securely report their concerns.

Ulula supports companies, non-profits, and governments to source accurate and timely insights from workers and communities via mobile phones, and our innovative dashboards provide data analytics that helps identify human rights abuses and inform actionable improvements.

Ulula works at the forefront of movements pushing for greater human rights due diligence and is continually seeking opportunities to engage organizations to hear directly from workers in a credible, continuous, and inclusive manner to achieve SDG targets 8.5, 8.7, and 8.8. by 2030.

Please describe the initiatives/programs that your company is taking to address the TARGETS of your primary SDGs.

Scalable, accessible, and cost-effective, Ulula has built a mobile and computer based worker voice platform and data analytics software that connects businesses to their workers to create more transparent, accountable, and human-centered supply chains. Our technology is designed to transcend literacy, language, and telecommunication network connectivity barriers so no worker gets left behind in the movement towards decent work. Users have the option to voice their working conditions through our multichannel approach, which includes SMS, voice call, Whatsapp, web, and mobile apps.

Our suite of solutions include:

  • Worker Surveys: Ulula’s worker surveys are designed to enable rapid insights at scale directly from workers who participate freely and anonymously to report on their well-being, labour conditions, and treatment at the workplace. Results are analyzed to draw insights and risks related to forced labour, child labour, and human rights. Data is shared with stakeholders to drive actionable change in the workplace.
  • Grievance Mechanism: The Ulula platform enables workers to submit anonymous complaints about their working conditions and engage in secure two-way communication with a case manager who can systematically follow-up, investigate, and resolve cases to close the feedback loop and achieve remedy.
  • Information Broadcasts: Access to information is key to ensuring workers are aware of their rights at the workplace and empowered to defend them. Through the sending of important updates, alerts, and rights-based information, the Ulula platform promotes greater awareness of workplace policies and protections.
  • Worker Engagement App: As part of our continuous evolution and innovation to meet the needs of different workers across the world, Ulula has launched Open Worker Line – an Android and IoS worker engagement App. The app is a holistic digital engagement and communications platform that centralizes our grievance mechanism, information broadcast, worker surveys, and training materials in one place.

Please highlight the key impacts and results of the mentioned initiatives.

Ulula continues to work in countries with high risk of forced labor including Malaysia, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Indonesia where a total estimated 14 million modern slaves live and work, contributing their labour and skills to make everyday products that make our lives comfortable and easier. To date, we have deployed 100+ projects across 1,000s of worksites and communities in 30 countries, reaching over 1 million people.

The insights gathered through our technology have enabled employers, brands, auditors, NGOs, and civil society to make rapid decisions and tangible improvements to worker and community well-being and advocate for further protective measures.

Some key highlights from our work and impact include:

  • In 2019, Ulula partnered with a large business association to estimate worker wellbeing across China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Taiwan and Thailand. Ulula gathered insights from close to 20,000 workers from 100 factories employing 115,000 workers in a 2 month period. The data gathered in over ten languages and provides a statistically representative sample of the millions of workers employed in the factories where members of the business association are sourcing from – included gender disaggregated and for migrant workers.
  • Ulula is continuing to expand its work in the palm oil sector in Malaysia, Indonesia , Guatemala and Colombia. The platform has helped identify and support remediation of labor abuses on plantations.
  • In the DRC, IPIS and a coalition of 20 NGOs have been working together to support an SMS based grievance reporting mechanism around labor and human rights abuses. The Kufatilia Platform has a public interface to enable a broader audience to access over 1,500 incidents reported through the system, of which more than 40% have been successfully resolved by partner NGOs by engaging with the appropriate local authorities, state mining services, and the police and army.

Please describe how your company is building awareness for the selected SDG 

Ulula has been a thought leader in the space of business human rights, CSR and sustainable trade and development. In 2019, we were featured in Nike’s and PepsiCo’s sustainability reports. Ulula is also recognized across a variety of industries for its work on grievance (Global Compact Germany), innovative data collection (International Finance Corporation), and enabling new research on women in the gig economy (Overseas Development Institute).

Ulula is an active member of the Commonwealth 8.7 Network, with a secretariat in the UK under the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. The network has 60+ members in all commonwealth nations around the globe, creating a platform for knowledge sharing, collective advocacy and collaboration to help the commonwealth nations reach SDG 8.7 and eliminate modern slavery. Ulula sits on the Management Committee of the network, representing the Americas and Caribbean region.

Please outline the plans your organization has for being committed to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in response to COVID-19

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ulula has rapidly shifted our solutions to capture labour risks related to the pandemic and positioned our technology to address health and safety needs. After extensive research and continuous reiteration, our tools are adapted to capture new risks brought on by the pandemic, such as access to personal protective equipment at the workplace, physical distancing, salary reductions, sick leave pay, mental health, and more.

Several organizations, businesses, and industry associations have already engaged Ulula to respond to the impacts of COVID-19, spanning 17 countries and 200,000 workers.