Sam Tarling/Oxfam

A woman works on a clothing line making winter jackets for an international brand in a garment factory in Dong Nai province, Vietnam
A woman works on a clothing line making winter jackets for an international brand in a garment factory in Dong Nai province, Vietnam

Oxfam Business Advisory Service

The Oxfam Business Advisory Service (OBAS) provides companies with advice and guidance on key issues in their sustainability strategies, with the aim of driving forward more positive business practises and contributing to a future where business plays a leading role in overcoming poverty, respecting human rights and empowering women.

OBAS has been established to build on Oxfam’s wealth of experience working with the private sector on social sustainability issues in which we;

  • Campaign for change in corporate policy and practice when workers are unable to access their fundamental rights, or business is unintentionally harming the most vulnerable;
  • Collaborate and work with companies to analyse issues and create lasting solutions to the underlying causes of poverty;
  • Advocate for more progressive policies to enable businesses to achieve more responsible and inclusive outcomes.

Our aim

We now aim to further increase our impact by enabling more companies to benefit from Oxfam’s expertise offering advice, support and, where needed, stretch on the following areas of work:

  • Human & Labour Rights for workers in global supply chains, supporting companies to go “beyond audit” to understand salient human rights risks and their root causes - enabling them to implement stronger and more robust responsible sourcing strategies;
  • Improving the resilience, rights and livelihoods of smallholder farmers supplying key agricultural commodities in global supply chains;
  • Addressing gender inequalities and women’s economic empowerment, with a strong focus on systemic challenges including arduous unpaid care responsibilities and the impact of damaging social norms, and how to change them;
  • Measuring the social impact of a company’s existing sustainability strategies and frameworks through analysis and feedback;
  • Advising on how to improve Monitoring & Evaluation processes to support on the above.

Our approach is

  • Focused on enabling you to have a greater understanding of your organisation’s social impact on the people throughout its value chain, from smallholder farmers to consumers;
  • Gender led as women constitute a large proportion of the global workforce, but are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and low pay (earning on average 25% less than men for the same work);
  • Systems based - whilst providing advice on immediate issues, we also look at the broader context and the root causes behind these issues;
  • Global - Oxfam operates in 67 countries so can offer “boots on the ground” presence, which enables us to bring local insight and presence to engagements at a country level;
  • Practical - drawing on a range of diagnostic tools, frameworks and guides developed by Oxfam, and adapted for business contexts;
  • Challenging - driving positive impact for poorer workers and producers in global supply chains is the primary goal of all our work and, where necessary, we will be a critical friend offering stretch and constructive challenge;
  • Rigorous – we bring a strong foundation of Monitoring and Evaluation processes to all we do, reporting and assessing against these frameworks.

Our experts offer advice and support in a variety of formats including workshops, feedback and advice on company sustainability strategies, deep dive research reports on specific countries and supply chains, as well as Human Rights Impacts Assessments.

Fees paid to the Oxfam Business Advisory Service are fed back into Oxfam’s broader mission to end global poverty.

Find out more about our work with the private sector on Human & Labour Rights and Gender.

Contact us

To find out more about how the Oxfam Business Advisory Service can help your business achieve its sustainability goals, contact Holly Welsh at advisory@oxfam.org.uk.