None of us knowingly want to buy products that harm the people involved in their manufacture. However, unwittingly, we may be doing just that. The supply chains of many companies operating today involve unethical labour practices including bonded labour and slavery.
The first step to eradicating the scourge of modern slavery is acknowledging and confronting its existence” Theresa May
Modern slavery and human trafficking is one of the major ethical business challenge of our times. To engage in tackling it is a huge and formidable endeavour as supply chains are increasingly complex and global. Eliminating these practices requires companies to clinically analyse their own operations and those of their supply chains. Sadly, until recently, only a small number of businesses were undertaking such detailed activity.
However, the introduction of Part 6 of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 changed this. It is now the responsibility of any company with a turnover of more than £36 million with operations in the UK (no matter how small) to publish an annual “slavery and human trafficking statement”. This document is a legal requirement and needs to show the steps that have been taken to ensure that companies’ supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Non-compliance of the Act could lead to a charge of contempt of court and an unlimited fine.
The business of forced labour in global supply chains cannot be combatted without reliable and consistent information about the patterns of forced labour within global supply chains and the effectiveness of public and private governance efforts to combat them.” Genevieve LeBaron
The UK government provides guidance on what can be included in the statement. One essential feature is that the statement must be made public, and should be published on the company website (if one exists) where it can be scrutinised by customers and civil society.
Suggested contents of the statement, include:
- The company’s policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking
- The due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking both in its own business and that of its supply chains
- The parts of its business and supply chains where it has been identified that there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
- The steps it has taken to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;
- Details of the training about slavery and human trafficking the company makes available to its staff.
We must show new energy in fighting back an old evil. Nearly two centuries after the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, and more than a century after slavery was officially ended in its last strongholds, the trade in human beings for any purpose must not be allowed to thrive in our time.” George W. Bush
Apart from the overriding ethical and moral reasons for ensuring business operations comply with this law, there are also compelling business reasons for doing so. DCA has the skill sets and expertise to ensure your company fulfills both its moral and legal obligations. We can ensure that every company has a statement that is appropriate for the organisation, enhances its operations and is effective in reducing slavery in its many forms. We can also undertake the training of all relevant staff.
For many, a statement alone will not be enough. It must be backed by actions. However, many struggle to find the right path to take to address this complex issue. DCA has extensive and proven experience of analysing complex supply chains. We understand the complexity, and know how to manage it. We have experience developing ethical trade programmes that address issues like child labour and modern slavery. We understand the risks that are involved. We also understand the opportunity that addressing modern slavery give.
This is an invaluable resource for any company looking to be a leader in its industry, with motivated staff, a robust supply chain and inspired customers.