“This case illustrates the enormous harm that victims of exploitation suffer. Your business has a role to play in identifying and preventing exploitation.”
Letter from Dame Sara Thornton to companies, 16 July 2019
Businesses have an obligation to respect human rights in their own operations, associated products, and services and through their business relationships. The introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015 started to bring the conversation to a wider business community.
The increase in legislation at an international level, the increase in civil litigation cases and the increase in interest of the finance sector through the ESG agenda, has moved the issue of modern slavery and human rights due diligence to a key business activity for businesses of all shapes, sizes, and complexities.
Businesses are moving from awareness raising to action and the challenge is to understand how to embed considerations relating to modern slavery and human rights into the heart of businesses, ensuring that it stands alongside other considerations in the sustainability agenda.
Thanks to COP26 the concept of a just transition is starting to provide businesses with a focus on ensuring that climate change strategies are developed with people at the core. This has helped further increase the need for businesses to develop and embed modern slavery and human rights requirements throughout their operations.
Action Sustainability are passionate about helping your business address these challenges in a pragmatic and effective way.
To understand activities, you need to undertake to embed effective due diligence, it is always good to assess what you don’t know and where your knowledge gaps lie.
Effective policies not only communicate intension to the outside stakeholder community, but also provide direction for your internal stakeholders. They provide the golden thread for key activity in your organisation across various departments.
✔ Develop your modern slavery and/or human rights policy.
✔ Engage with your stakeholders to assess the level of ambition.
✔ Test policy requirements with key stakeholders to understand feasibility and identify challenges for implementation.
The key to successful implementation is a change management process that enables and empowers individuals in your organisation to act.
✔ Review existing governance requirements and develop requirements relating to modern slavery and/or human rights.
✔ Train individuals within your organisation to various levels of competency – from beginner to advanced – in how they can apply the governance requirements in their everyday working life.
✔ Develop key metrics that can be collected to evidence due diligence activity and its effectiveness.
It is impossible for any business to declare that there are zero victims of forced labour in their supply chain. They may exist at an indirect level, but the reality is that due to the number of global victims, most business supply chains have been infiltrated to a lesser or larger extent.
Supply Chain due diligence is about understanding where modern slavery may occur in your supply chain and what activity you can undertake to address it.
✔ Identify where risks in your supply chain are likely to exist.
✔ Prioritise those risks to undertake a supply chain mapping activity.
✔ Update your procurement process to ensure that modern slavery and/or human rights requirements are embedded.
✔ Collaborate with your supply chain to help raise awareness and identify activities that needs to be undertaken.
✔ Evaluate your supply chains management systems to ensure they have processes in place to address the issue of modern slavery and/or human rights.
In August 2022 the first standard was launched to help businesses to address the modern slavery issues within their organisation and associated supply chains. As part of the authoring committee and providing technical expertise on procurement, supply chain requirements, and best practice, we are proud to support the standard which provides a comprehensive overview for organisations to follow. The standard is open access and available here.
If you want to understand how your organisation is performing against the standard, or how you can implement requirements, get in touch.
On 15th September our Modern Slavery expert Helen Carter will be hosting a webinar to showcase the standard alongside speakers who helped write it. Secure your place here.
“Morgan Sindall has had invaluable support from Action Sustainability with regards to shaping an action plan to combat modern slavery within our extensive supply chain. The depth of experience of their team has helped us in identifying areas of risk, and working alongside our procurement team, it has resulted in the production of a best-in-class action plan that benefits from the close working commitment from the Action Sustainability team. Without doubt, they are to be considered leaders in this field” – Graham Edgell – Supply Chain Director, Morgan Sindall
“Action Sustainability have been instrumental in shaping our sectors understanding of the issues around the MSA and in developing support and solutions to help us to respond to them.” – Aaron Reid, Sustainable Supply Chain Manager, Balfour Beatty
“Action Sustainability, and Helen Carter in particular, have developed a strong capability to support companies responding to the Modern Slavery Act. This includes a knowledge base of materials that provide understanding of the Act and guidance on how to embed the necessary changes in a company’s policy and processes. They are acknowledged as experts in the construction and FM sectors, and Helen is a respected conference speaker.” – Dan Firth – Sustainable Procurement Manager, Interserve
“Today’s procurement professionals must understand how to deal with all kinds of risk; a good practical session on how to deal with very difficult challenges with suppliers where there is risk to their employees, local environment and community; we all have a responsibility to our companies, our customers and to our own standards in our home nations.” – Delegate – ICM Supplier Conference, Florida
We inspire. Through our social enterprise company, we push the boundaries of best practice by setting new standards, researching and disseminating new knowledge.
We are global thought leaders, consultants, software developers and service providers in sustainable supply chain management. Our mission is to inspire sustainable business.
We lead collaborative groups of businesses to develop the capacity of their supply chains, like our award-winning Supply Chain Sustainability School.