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Putting modern slavery on the agenda

Industry Insights

Putting modern slavery on the agenda

5 actions businesses can take immediately to understand and eliminate modern slavery in their supply chain

A critical human rights issue that faces all industries is how to tackle modern slavery within the supply chain. Keynote speaker Klára Skrivánková of Anti-Slavery International addressed delegates, and highlighted some key actions businesses can take today that are straightforward, meaningful and easily actionable;

  1. Acknowledge the problem. It is real and exists everywhere. It is the responsibility of the organisation to prove, rather than hope, it is not within their supply chain.
  2. Examine the supply chain. Businesses need to identify the weak links and interrogate any absence of information. Visibility and transparency are key to building a better understanding of the risks within the supply chain.
  3. Own the solution. Organisations need to ensure that policies and carefully worded codes of conduct are cascaded down through the supply chain – they have a responsibility to embed good practice and effective policies throughout their business.
  4. Collaborate to create change. When working in partnership across the supply chain, businesses can create a stronger, louder voice and strive towards reform together.
  5. Create a dialogue around the issue. Organisations need to take responsibility beyond than just a modern slavery statement on their website. It is an issue that is on meeting agendas, a conversation that happens between suppliers and a reason to get to know the workforce.

A complex web of global supply chains makes the visibility of modern slavery difficult, however it is clear from the engagement of buyers and suppliers at AchillesLive that there is an appetite for more information and clarity on policy, and how to go further than simply demonstrating compliance.

During her keynote speech at AchillesLive, Klára Skrivánková commented; “Understanding the working practises within all industries becomes an essential operational measure. Due diligence should be embedded into all areas of business, setting benchmarks and standards throughout the whole supply chain.”

“Organisations that already demonstrate compliance must now be proactive and transparent by providing evidence of labour practices across all parts of the business, and those who do not, must start. Businesses must opt to be part of the solution, and remove themselves from those who become part of the problem.”

In April 2017, Achilles launched the Labour Practice Audit (currently known as Ethical Business Programme), which enables businesses to gain greater visibility and understanding of the labour practices of their organisation and supply chain. The audit enables them to scrutinise three specific aspects of this complex area of legislation: worker engagement, personnel file compliance and management systems compliance. The product complements the core Achilles audit offering.

Jay Katzen, Chief Executive Officer for Achilles, said: “We are dedicated to the eradication of modern slavery by working closely with buyers and suppliers. We recently launched the Labour Practice Audit (currently known as Ethical Business Programme), which enables our buyers and suppliers to gain greater visibility and understanding of the labour practices within their organisation and supply chains.”

“Collectively we need to strive for reform on modern slavery, it is our moral and ethical responsibility to work together to remove the issue altogether. It should not be an option, it should be a mandate, as it is truly one of the most significant human rights issues of our time.”

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