When you think of the term slavery, you might jump to the past where it was legal to own another person as a piece of property. Or you might imagine groups of people chained together, forced to spend their days performing hard labour with little food or water. However, slavery has changed with the times and modern forms of the practice exist within supply chains throughout the world.
In fact, many examples of modern slavery are right under our noses, varying from children being exploited in sweatshops to labour exploitation in the UK agricultural sector. One high profile case tells the story of Lithuanian migrants who were lured to the UK to catch chickens and collect their eggs. The migrants claimed they were victims of violence, deprived of food, sleep and basic accommodation. They were also forced to urinate and defecate into carrier bags as they worked.
Currently in UK law there is a requirement for businesses turning over £36 million to comply with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and produce a statement which outlines their commitments to ending slavery. This means they must be clear about which suppliers they use, ensuring that slave labour doesn’t exist at any stage of their own supply chain. But why is this only mandatory for big organisations?
Research conducted by our team at Wax Digital shows many people believe this threshold should be lower. Some 84% of respondents thought all businesses have a role to play in the fight against modern slavery.
No matter the size of your organisation, it is possible to produce your own modern slavery statement and be compliant with this landmark legislation.
But you might be wondering where to start, so here is what you need to know.
Include details such as the size of your company, the number of employees and which financial year the statement will correspond to. Next, detail how your organisation is set up and provide a clear structure of how it functions. What is your primary purpose? What goods do you provide? And, where does your supply chain operate?
Appoint a modern slavery advocate to handle all related enquiries and be responsible for implementing polices. They should oversee everything connected to fighting modern slavery in your organisation.
Set out what your organisation does to ensure any new suppliers are not engaging in slavery within their business. Also, include information about how you monitor your existing suppliers and what would happen if they are not meeting existing requirements.
It makes sense to outline your aims and objectives so you can measure how your performing annually. Use the SMART method (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound) as a guide for achieving your goals and make sure everyone in the business is aware of the company’s commitments to ending modern slavery.
Teach your team about slavery by making use of online materials, such as presentations and videos, implemented through regular training exercises. You should also encourage an open environment where your colleagues can ask questions, report concerns and be confident that it will be acted upon.
Businesses need to assume more responsibility in the fight to end modern day slavery and need to be continuing their efforts to ensure this issue is addressed effectively. Our recent survey showed 62% of people didn’t know anything about the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which clearly needs to change. It’s time for UK businesses to stand up and help bring these abhorrent conditions to an end.
Daniel Ball is business development director at Wax Digital.
This contributed article has been written by a guest writer at the invitation of Procurement Leaders. Procurement Leaders received no payment directly connected with the publishing of this content.