Many of the products we buy and use every day were made by people in slavery. There's evidence of slavery at different stages of the supply chain, from the production of raw materials (cocoa, cotton, fish) to manufacturing everyday goods such as mobile phones or garments and even at the final stage, when the product reaches the market.
Typically the final product you buy has passed through a long chain of producers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers who have participated in the production, delivery and sale of the product, but it can be difficult to track the origin of a component back to a particular producer e.g. cotton in a t-shirt back to a particular cotton farm.
Because of this complexity within supply chains it's rarely possible to be certain that a product has or has not been produced using slavery.
The way in which companies operate can often increase the likelihood of slavery in the final product. If a brand gives its supplier a large order with a short turnaround time beyond the suppliers’ capacity, this could increase the risk of slavery as the supplier may subcontract out to factories that aren't regulated by the same standards as the supplier.
Company buyers may also negotiate such low prices that suppliers are forced to push down the price it pays for the materials it needs, which can have a knock-on effect on those involved in the production of raw materials, increasing the likelihood of the use of slavery.
Companies have a moral responsibility of ensuring that no slavery has been used through the production of goods they sell. This should apply not only to goods produced in their own factories but also to their suppliers, and suppliers of their suppliers, all the way down through the supply chain.
And it's not just the moral responsibility that's at stake here. Complex supply chains increase the risk of business disruption through a failure of productivity, which can be borne out of slave labour leading to higher rates of absence, reduced quality through training shortcuts, longer lead times and higher wholesale prices.
Corporate reputation can also be tarnished by media publicity highlighting slave labour in the supply chain, and as many already know reputation is difficult to rebuild once it's been broken.
In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act passed in 2015 obliged businesses with an annual turnover of £36m or higher to disclose the steps they take to tackle slavery in their supply chain under the Transparency in Supply Chains Provision (TISC). While the Act was largely welcomed by civil society, serious concerns have been raised about its limitations.
There is similar legislation being introduced around the world, with California, France, Finland and Australia the latest to introduce such measures.
In response to these moral, ethical and business-oriented risks Transformotion has developed a comprehensive ethical supply chain audit that identifies slave labour issues with a supplier or producer in the chain. The audit includes worker interviews to gauge working practices, health and safety standards, remuneration, training and much more besides, and provides you with peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to reduce the impact of modern slavery.
Our audit has been developed using the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights and follows the Ethical Trading Initiative Code, so standards can be universally adopted alongside regional or national laws.
What's more we'll donate 5% of every audit fee to Anti Slavery International, to help support their work around the world.
It's time to think of others.
To find out more about our audit please contact email@example.com, or for more information on the work of Anti Slavery visit www.antislavery.org