The Grievance Mechanism: A Simple yet Effective way to Detect ESG Risks in Supply Chains

Published: March 2, 2023
Last Modified: October 26, 2023

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The new EU Supply Chain Due diligence Act requires companies to exercise due diligence throughout their supply chains in order to prevent or mitigate human rights abuses and environmental damage. This piece of legislation is a direct response to the growing awareness of the risks associated with modern supply chains.

In order to comply with the new law, companies will need to put in place a grievance mechanism. This is a simple yet effective way to detect risks in the supply chain and address them before they cause harm.

The grievance mechanism will give workers and communities a way to raise concerns about risks in the supply chain, and it will help companies to identify and address those risks.

This blog explains what the grievance mechanism is and how it can help companies to improve their supply chain due diligence.

What is a grievance mechanism?

A grievance mechanism is a way for employees, suppliers, contractors, and communities to raise concerns about an organization’s supply chain. It is a formal system for workers and communities to voice their concerns about workplace, environmental, and human rights issues that could pose risk to the company. These mechanisms tend to be independent from the company, and are usually managed or operated by a third party that is trusted to act objectively and reliably. Grievance mechanisms come in different forms, ranging from an electronic “tip-off” system that allows individuals to report concerns anonymously to a hotline, to a more formal process involving an appeals board. The mechanism should be designed to meet the particular needs and context of the organization, and should take into account the culture of the workers and the potential risks.

What are the benefits of having a grievance mechanism?

The most important benefit of a grievance mechanism is that it gives workers and communities a way to raise concerns and to make sure they are heard. By giving people a voice and a platform to raise issues, companies can get a better understanding of the risks in their supply chain. Grievance mechanisms also help to build trust between companies and the people they employ and depend on. By addressing concerns quickly and consistently, a company can demonstrate its commitment to equality, fairness and human rights. This is particularly important in a globalised world where people from different cultures need to be able to trust each other. The grievance mechanism can also be an effective way to promote good working conditions, as it will make workers more aware of their rights and encourage employers to treat their workers well. This can lead to improved morale and productivity, as well as a better working environment overall.

How can a grievance mechanism help identify ESG risks in supply chains?

The grievance mechanism is an effective way of identifying potential ESG risks. It will enable employees, suppliers and other stakeholders to provide feedback on potential issues in the supply chain and help the organization to understand and address them. Companies will be able to identify areas of risk or gaps in their management systems, and then take steps to mitigate them. The grievance mechanism will also provide valuable data that can be used for performance measurement, benchmarking, and benchmarking against best practices. Companies can use this data to monitor ESG performance and to detect potential breaches in the supply chain. This information can be used to create a checklist for auditors, so that they can assess the risks in the supply chain more accurately.

Things to consider when setting up a grievance mechanism

When creating a grievance mechanism, companies should take into account cultural, social, and legal considerations. The mechanism needs to be adapted to the particular context and should consider the needs of employees and other stakeholders. Companies also need to ensure that the mechanism is accessible and understandable, by providing clear instructions and FAQs. The mechanism should also include measures to protect whistleblowers, such as a mechanism for reporting anonymously, or guaranteed protection from retaliation. Companies must ensure they protect people who raise concerns and that they are not discriminated against or disadvantaged.

Grievance mechanisms and potential negative impacts

Grievance mechanisms can be a powerful tool for identifying and addressing ESG risks but there are also potential risks associated with them. Companies must assess the potential for abuse or information leakage and ensure that the mechanism does not result in unintended consequences. For example, the wrong kind of information could be shared, or people with incorrect motives could manipulate the system. Companies also need to take into account the potential for crowd-sourcing data and have procedures in place to prevent malicious use of the mechanism.


Grievance mechanisms provide a simple yet effective way for companies to address ESG risks in their supply chains. They give employees and other stakeholders a voice, and provide companies with valuable data to improve their management systems. However, it is important to consider the potential risks associated with the mechanism and ensure that it is adapted to the particular context of the organization. With the right precautions, a well-designed and properly implemented grievance mechanism can be an invaluable tool for managing ESG risks in the supply chain.