Just Good Work

Through their B-Corp-certified company and mobile app, Quintin and his wife Angela empower corporations to increase transparency in their supply chains and work toward eradicating modern slavery.

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I’ve always been aware of inequity

My mum worked for a development charity, so growing up witnessing living and working conditions across different parts of the world really stayed with me. Back home in New Zealand, at 15, I left high school and started an internet service provider with the aim of trying to help people connect their life and work better. It became one of the top three internet providers in NZ and gave me a glimpse into the potential of technology to bring opportunities for work to some of the places that I’d seen when I was growing up. Fast forward a few years to the UK where my wife, Angela, and I shared this passion to understand more around the issue of modern slavery, which started us looking for an MBA. I chose Ashridge because the program had this really strong focus on sustainability and corporate responsibility, which was rare at the time.

A chance encounter that changed our lives

Angela and I continued really trying to dig into this issue of modern slavery from different perspectives. We went to visit some companies in Asia whose business models were built on providing opportunities or preventing exploitation, like for women at risk of being trafficked. On the way back from that trip, we got lost in the Gulf desert and came across a sign for labor camps. We followed it for a long way and eventually got to a walled concrete compound. As we drove past, the gates were opening and a busload of workers was going out to their shift. Another busload was coming back in from theirs. We didn’t know much about the working conditions inside. Only that it seemed like a long way for people who are so far from home to be living out in the desert. That was one of the most impactful moments of our lives and really sparked us to try and understand what was happening for migrant workers globally and what we could do to address it.

Fast forward again, and all of these experiences led to us starting our company, Fifty Eight, in 2014, which helps businesses ensure good employment and working conditions across their supply chain.

We all have a part to play

“Who made my clothes?” This is a question we should all be asking. The more we, as customers, are asking companies “What do you know? What can you tell me about where my food is coming from, or where my phone is made?” the more data sustainability professionals have to take to their board and say “the demand from our customers is increasing,” or “the demand from our investors is increasing for this transparency and information.” And when campaigns are run and those questions are asked in a public forum, it forces a certain kind of response or engagement from the companies. We have friends whose children at school asked the company that makes their uniforms: “Can you tell me if children were involved in producing our uniforms?” Those kinds of questions have an impact. It may seem like they don’t, but companies have told us repeatedly that the more their customers and investors ask them questions, the more fuel that gives them internally to take some action on it.

What we do

We partner with organizations such as ASOS and The Very Group to help eradicate worker exploitation from the global supply chain. The biggest part of our work is introducing technology that brings transparency for companies and also improves information for workers throughout the supply chain.

Our mobile app

Our app Just Good Work is a big focus for us. It runs in 22 countries and 23 languages at the moment. We work with brands and retailers to help them provide a consistent approach across their supply chain, working alongside them and their suppliers in places like Malaysia and Mauritius. We also work with recruiters and labor providers and then with workers themselves at a community level to understand some of their particular challenges. Another big part of our work is research and piloting new approaches around addressing the worst forms of child labor and supply chains. We do that in Central and East Africa primarily, working alongside an NGO and academic and private sector partners, helping turn research and new legislation into practical solutions.

Fifty Eight programmers in Uganda

Angela at the Just Good Work app launch, Kenya 2019

The Just Good Work app is relevant for anybody—migrant worker or not—in knowing what’s okay and what’s not okay in your recruitment and employment. Companies can include updates for workers as well as the core ones that we provide around Covid-19 and other changes. Workers can feed back on what is or isn’t happening for them. So, it builds up a live picture, a more transparent picture of the supply chain, to help companies understand where there might be problems and how to address them faster.

Self-reflection is crucial

Finding out that we were the highest scoring UK B Corporation was a proud moment for all of us. When businesses are at their best, they’re having a positive impact on their customers, on suppliers, on their employees, and on the environment. For us, getting B Corp certification was an external verification of our business model. It’s like a mirror to ask lots of questions of yourself and say, are we actually having the kind of impact we would want to on people and on the planet? And it’s also a really encouraging community to be a part of because it’s made up of like-minded companies that are trying to pursue business as a force for good. I really recommend it.

“For us, B Corp certification is a way of [holding up] a mirror to ask lots of questions of yourself and say, are we actually having the kind of impact we want to on people and the planet?”