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    Sustainability

Tackling slave labour

Organizations play a big part in setting expectations to address issues like slave labour, pay, living conditions, work environment, and hours.

Addressing modern slavery

National Grid highlights that organizations play a huge role in setting expectations around pay, hours, and living and working conditions. This is particularly pertinent when it comes to the most vulnerable people in the value chain. 

Organizations that take social responsibility seriously, implement it well and measure effectively are making smart business decisions that go far beyond profits – they’re addressing an international ethical issue in business.

Managing the risk of modern slavery

Slave labour, also known as forced labour, refers to a grave violation of human rights where individuals are coerced, often through threats, violence, or deception, to work against their will under exploitative conditions.

This practice denies workers their fundamental rights, including the freedom to choose their employment and the right to fair wages and working conditions.

Modern slavery across diverse sectors

Given the widespread presence of modern slavery in various industries and countries, it's crucial to tackle this problem.

For organizations dedicated to ending forced labour, conducting thorough risk assessments and establishing open partnerships throughout their supply chains is key. That way, organizations can maintain ethical norms and safeguard workers' rights and dignity across their supply networks.

To evaluate their vulnerabilities, there are four key dimensions your organization could consider:

Geography: Certain organizations have connections with suppliers or partners in countries where labour regulations are insufficient. Without proper legal oversight, workers in these areas can be easily taken advantage of.

Discrimination: Discrimination stemming from factors such as gender, religion, or ethnicity can expose individuals to the risk of falling victim to slave labour. Groups like seasonal migrants, zero-hours workers, children under 15 engaged in work, and marginalized segments in socially excluded or politically unstable societies are also at risk due to discriminatory practices.

Corruption: A notable correlation often exists between modern slavery and organizations demonstrating weak ethical standards or involvement in corrupt practices. The absence of anti-bribery policies or controls within a partnering entity should raise red flags for organizations.

Supply Chains: Establishing transparent relationships with suppliers, coupled with comprehensive risk assessments, can mitigate the occurrence of slave labour within supply chains. By gaining a thorough understanding of their supply networks, organizations can collaborate with suppliers to institute effective grievance mechanisms and channels for reporting misconduct.

Addressing the intricate challenge of modern slavery necessitates proactive efforts in these areas.

Cultivating an effective risk policy

Addressing unethical behaviour starts with a strong commitment from senior managers. Once leaders have agreed on values, principles and a reporting structure for their organization, the policy can be adopted across the entire organization.

There are steps your organization can take to formulate an effective risk management policy.  They include:

Leadership commitment: Obtain support from senior management. Their endorsement sets the tone for the entire organization to prioritize risk management.

Define values: Senior leaders must collaboratively establish the core values and ethical principles that guide the organization's conduct. These values will be the compass for decision-making and risk assessment.

Reporting structure: Develop a structured reporting framework that allows employees at all levels to report unethical behaviour, potential risks, or violations. This process ensures transparency and accountability.

Organizational adoption: Once the values, principles, and reporting structure are agreed upon, the policy should be embraced organization wide.

By adhering to these steps, organizations can build a strong foundation for effective risk management and ethical conduct across their operations.

A new standard for social responsibility

Organizational Responses to Modern Slavery (BS 25700) received input from leading experts around the world including non-governmental organizations, businesses, academics, and the public sector.

It draws on expertise from risk management and anti-slavery communities. 

Find out more about Organizational Responses to Modern Slavery (BS 25700) 

Visit BSI’s Expert’s Corner for insights from industry experts on the environment, health, safety, security, and sustainability

Listen to BSI’s latest episode of The Standards Show on Eradicating Modern Slavery