New America, ConsenSys, and Harvard Awarded Federal Grant to Build Blockchain-Powered System to Track Health and Well-being of Factory Workers

Solution will be piloted with garment factory workers in Mexico in 2019 and 2020. Represents $800,000 collaboration supported by State Department, Levi Strauss Foundation, and ConsenSys.
Press Release
Jan. 24, 2019

DAVOS, Switzerland - New America, ConsenSys, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health launched a two-year collaborative endeavor to develop a blockchain-based worker well-being system based on Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) Health and Well-being Index, and promote it as a universal benchmark to assess workforce well-being and the conditions that elevate it across industries. The system will provide a workforce-wide view of factory conditions and individual health and well-being, and is a crucial first step in a transparent evaluation of working conditions.

SHINE has been implementing its Health and Well-being Index in supplier factories for the iconic American apparel company Levi Strauss & Co. since 2015, and nearly 9,000 workers have taken the survey to date. This new collaboration will expand the initiative’s work by developing a scalable and long-term mechanism to anonymously and securely track and measure worker well-being with an immutable and digitally authenticated blockchain solution. Three factories in Mexico producing goods for Levi Strauss & Co. and employing 5,000 workers will be the first locations to use the blockchain-powered survey in 2019.

“For the last 25 years, work in supply chains has been monitored mainly by audits. We know from research and serious traumatic events that this system alone is not effective. A distributed system of inquiry on the blockchain that goes right to the source [workers] offers a new solution. Most supply chain blockchain use cases are for material tracking, so leveraging this new technology for the evaluation of the human condition is an exciting innovation with broad potential for positive impact on worker well-being worldwide,” said Dr. Eileen McNeely, Director of SHINE at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The grant was awarded to New America in 2018 by the U.S. State Department with the aim of piloting a blockchain powered solution for a social innovation challenge. ConsenSys and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s SHINE initiative are sub-grantees of New America.

“Providing a secure, standardized, auditable, and transparent platform through which worker survey data can be aggregated and analyzed will be possible with this solution,” said Tomicah Tillemann, founder of the Blockchain Trust Accelerator at New America. “Blockchain technology offers an innovative way to better measure and track the health and well-being of factory workers.”

Levi Strauss & Co. has a long history of advocating for ethical supply chains. In 1991, it became the first multinational apparel company to implement global sourcing guidelines for its global supply chain, and in 2005, it was among the first apparel companies to release the names and locations of all active, approved owned-and-operated, contract, and licensee factories around the world. The company works closely with governments, local communities, and other apparel companies to strengthen the protection of worker rights.

“Ethereum is a technology that reduces the barrier for trust between two parties and will create a transparent environment for workers to securely and anonymously share critical information,” said ConsenSys Founder Joe Lubin. “Our goal is to develop, test, and scale a system that could empower employees, suppliers, and consumers to make informed decisions about factories, products, and brands.”

The first pilot of the solution is scheduled to be tested in factories in Mexico in the second quarter of 2019. There will be another pilot of the tech in 2020.

About the Blockchain Trust Accelerator at New America

The Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA) at New America is a leading platform for harnessing blockchain technology to solve social impact and governance challenges. Established in 2016, BTA brings together governments, technologists, civil society organizations, and philanthropists to build Blockchain pilots that benefit society. BTA projects and research help organizations and institutions increase accountability, ensure transparency, create opportunity, and build trust in core institutions.

About SHINE at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

The Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) unites academic research with business innovation to advance workforce well-being and promote human flourishing throughout the world. SHINE creates a research agenda and works with corporate leadership to define and develop the evidence for scalable solutions to healthy, sustainable change in business. This pioneering research translates into powerful tools and methods that innovate and unite corporate responsibility, sustainability and well-being practices so that individuals and companies can thrive.

About ConsenSys

ConsenSys is a global formation of technologists and entrepreneurs building the infrastructure, applications, and practices that enable a decentralized world. At the core, ConsenSys is a venture production studio and blockchain software development consultancy creating decentralized applications (dApps), enterprise solutions and developer tools for blockchain ecosystems, focused primarily on Ethereum. Powered by smart contracts and secured through encryption, our solutions provide the benefits of transparency, auditability, and immutability that are unique to blockchain-based solutions.

Contact Details

Allison Price
New America

Courtney Leimanis
SHINE / Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

James Beck