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Eliminating modern slavery in supply chains

Three preventative strategies for organizations to consider when prioritizing sustainable and ethical supply chains.

Social responsibility for human trafficking and modern slavery

In today's interconnected world, where goods and services flow across borders with unprecedented speed, the concept of supply chains has become more crucial than ever.

However, this global network of production and distribution is not without its dark underbelly. Human trafficking and modern slavery, appalling violations of basic human rights, have insidiously infiltrated supply chains, casting a grim shadow on the corporate world's social responsibility.

In an article by Fred Waelter, Principal Consultant of Sustainable Supply Chains at BSI, the intricate link between human trafficking, modern slavery, and the pursuit of sustainable supply chains is dissected, revealing the pressing need for organizations to confront and eradicate these heinous practices.

Vulnerability of supply chains

In a world still reeling from the effects of a global pandemic, supply chains' vulnerabilities were thrust into the limelight. Faced with unexpected challenges, organizations had to closely examine their intricate supply networks.

Yet, even with increased attention and awareness, the disturbing issues of human trafficking and modern slavery persist within these systems.

Waelter's portrayal of this reality is stark: individuals being treated as commodities, subjected to forced labour, involved in criminal enterprises, and even exploited for sex and organs.

Shockingly, these inhumane practices often take root in supply chains relying on migrant labour, a group disproportionately susceptible to exploitation.

United Nations sustainable development goals (SDGs)

Addressing forced labour is both a moral duty and a strategic necessity highlighted in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals, especially number 5 for Gender Equality and number 8 for Decent Work and Economic Growth, emphasize the importance of sustainable supply chains on a global business level.

Commitment to these goals not only aligns organizations with international standards of ethical conduct, but also enhances their reputation and overall success.

The troubling reality is that serious violations continue to happen even in organizations that appear well-meaning. Companies from all over the globe, whether they know it or not, are caught up in this urgent problem.

This emphasizes how crucial it is for business leaders to act proactively in getting rid of human trafficking and modern slavery from their supply chains. So, to pave the way we disclose three preventative strategies you could use within your organization:

Know where you stand: The journey begins with looking inward. Organizations need to carefully think about where they stand on this problem. Are they just trying to avoid bad publicity, or are they really dedicated to making a difference? Experts in sustainability can help evaluate where the organization stands and establish rules that cover both employees and suppliers, with a solid grasp of local laws.

Raise awareness through training: Setting rules is crucial, but their success depends on putting them into practice. Training that works well gives employees the understanding and tools to follow standards. This way of acting not only stops unintentional participation in human trafficking but also creates a culture of being watchful.

Know your supply chain: Starting from what they know, organizations should thoroughly check their supply chain. This means using both online research and on-site visits to find any possible problems. It's important to regularly check the people and companies they work with, even if they've been working together for a long time. Also, they can make contracts with realistic time limits to reduce stress on partners, which can help stop illegal actions caused by tight production schedules.

In the pursuit of sustainable supply chains, organizations bear a profound responsibility to extirpate the blight of human trafficking and modern slavery from their operations.

This mandate transcends mere legal compliance, enshrining a moral obligation to protect the sanctity and dignity of human life.

By aligning their strategies with the UN SDGs and championing the cause of social responsibility, organizations can be architects of positive change where supply chains are conduits of progress towards a better society and sustainable world.