“I have a family consisting of my husband and two children. I also have the responsibility of my father-in-law and mother-in-law, who are staying with us. In the past I could not save money at all due to the pressing responsibility of my immediate family. But through HERfinance . . . I learned how I can [budget] and save some money. Me and my husband now plan our finances and save money.”

HERproject participant, India

This story is one of many we’ve heard from participants of BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)’s HERproject™.  For the past seven years, Williams-Sonoma, Inc. has partnered with HERproject™ to provide health education, financial literacy and gender equity programs to over 64,000 workers in our supply chain as part of our goal to educate and empower 100,000 workers by 2020. We’re proud to announce that, through partnership with HERproject™ and VisionSpring, we’ve met that goal.

Meera, a HERfinance peer educator in India. IMAGE: Pottery Barn

At Williams-Sonoma, Inc. our mission is to enhance the quality of people’s lives at home, and we apply this throughout our value chain – from the workers in our factories to our associates and customers. Without them we cannot succeed. In 2016, when we set our goal of educating and empowering 100,000 workers, we sought out partners and programs whose impact would extend far beyond the workplace, into the daily lives of those who participated. Enter HERproject™ and VisionSpring.

Women in global supply chains have the potential to be powerful agents for positive change in workplaces and in society. Through HERproject™’s two training programs – HERhealth™ and HERfianance™ – workers build confidence, knowledge, and self-esteem by using lessons learned to uplift their peers and families. After a HERfinance™ training at one factory in India, 100% of workers understood the importance of maintaining a daily budget and felt confident they could set and achieve their financial goals. All of those workers started saving for their future, including for their children’s education.

We’ve seen similar stories from our partnership with VisionSpring. Through VisionSpring, workers are given free vision screening services and provided glasses at no cost. These resources are crucial elements of care for weavers, artisans, and anyone whose vision affects their ability to earn a living and support a family.  In 2016 we became the first home retailer to partner with VisionSpring and since then we’ve screened over 23,000 workers in 4 countries. On average, over 50% have needed and received glasses, many for the first time in their lives.

“I used to do a different, more intricate work earlier in another factory. I had to switch my line to [packaging] because of vision issues. I have realized now that without my glasses, I will no longer be employed. They are my path to earning a livelihood.”

VisionSpring participant at a WSI factory in India

Access to affordable eyewear and exams allows workers to remain in the workforce longer, increasing their earning potential and ability to support their families. The impacts of clear vision go far beyond that, though. Across four factories in India, workers saw an 85% reduction in frustration and a 28% reduction in headaches and fatigue. Many workers said the biggest impact was on their daily lives outside of work – an increased ability and confidence to read, use their phones and help their children with their homework.

A worker at a factory in Bohol, Philippines with her new glasses from a VisionSpring screening.

Seeing the incredible impact these programs have on the lives of workers, we’re eager to expand this work. Looking forward, we plan to further our commitment to worker wellbeing by setting a new goal. By 2030, 75% of our company-produced products will be made in factories offering worker wellbeing programs. Through continued partnership with organizations like HERproject™ and VisionSpring, we can meaningfully invest in the people who make our products, increasing their access to economic opportunity, benefits and education.