Written by Brett Lyndon, General Manager Training Pro Leaders Academy, a leading trainer in procurement and ethical behaviour.
In its COMMONWEALTH MODERN SLAVERY STATEMENT 2019 –20 “The (Australian) Government recognises that responding to modern slavery risks in operations and supply chains requires a proactive, ‘hands on’ approach. This is why, during the first reporting period, the Government took a range of actions to strengthen modern slavery considerations in our operations, procurement and contracting practices.
These actions focused on five key areas:
- building a whole-of-government framework to guide and coordinate the Government’s response and foster information sharing and collaboration;
- raising awareness of modern slavery risks among key government officials, including through tailored training;
- embedding modern slavery considerations within existing procurement and contracting practices;
- equipping procurement officers and investment managers to assess and address modern slavery risks and engage with suppliers and investees; and
- establishing plans and processes to ensure the Government is able to effectively respond to modern slavery cases.”
“Relevant anti-modern slavery extracts from our Responsible Sourcing Standards
Our Standards address the International Labour Organisation’s Forced Labour Indicators, including debt bondage, the retention of identity documents, verbal or physical threats and abuse of vulnerability. One or more of these indicators can signal a forced labour situation, with the indicators providing a basis to assess whether or not an individual worker is a victim of this crime.”
Apple provides training to both internal employees and external suppliers. Apple enforces it’s codes and standards. Where a violation is found it “works with the supplier to develop a corrective action plan, build the supplier’s capabilities, and make the required improvements.” “If a supplier is unwilling or unable to meet our requirements, the supplier risks removal from Apple’s supply chain.” Apple Pty Limited 2020 Modern Slavery Statement
Nestle’s “Remedial actions in Turkey in 2020 included:
- Training 4454 farmers, workers, traders and labour brokers on workers’ rights and child labour
- 716 children benefiting from our activities to address child labour in hazelnut orchards
- Agreeing formal contracts before harvest with 366 workers, farmers and labour brokers
- 165 workers benefiting from improved accommodation
- 589 workers benefiting from improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) conditions
- 58,587 personal protective equipment kits, including first aid and sanitary kits, hats, gloves, masks, t-shirts and belt bags, were distributed to farmers and workers”
Aldi Australia “In 2020 we are engaging with an external provider to design and deliver tailored modern slavery training to all employees with buying and procurement responsibilities.” You can read more here, or you can view ALDI Stores Modern Slavery Statement
To help combat Modern Slavery it is first important to raise awareness of the issue. Governments can legislate certain actions. For example, in Australia we have slavery offences under the Crimes Act, while the Modern Slavery Act requires businesses with annual revenue greater than $100 million to provide a statement to Australian Border Force essentially identifying where modern slavery risks occur in their supply chains and what actions they are taking to address those risks.
Government can also lead by example and choose to do business with more ethical businesses, where possible, that are taking a pro-active approach towards addressing modern slavery risks and exposure in their supply chains.
Businesses can ensure compliance with legislation, conduct in depth supply chain analysis to identify, and redress any modern slavery risks, implement and enforce policies and standards for compliance.
Consumers like you & I can be aware of the situation focus on engaging with ethical and proactive manufacturers and suppliers. We can encourage better behaviour and practices by spending our hard-earned money with those companies that we deem to be doing the right thing.
This will never be a simple issue to fix because of the complexities of supply chains. One of the leading causes of Modern Slavery is poverty, and the current pandemic sweeping the world has made this problem worse as countries, industries and business shut down, people lose their jobs and so will do just about anything to feed themselves and their families.
However this is not a reason not to try and do something because to do nothing is to accept it.