I am constantly surprised at the number of businesses who are yet to engage in the global fight against modern day slavery. The fact is, every business, regardless of size or sector, has an important role to play. Sometimes, it’s just about knowing where to start. Here are five things you can do right now to get your business focused and on track in the anti-slavery movement:
1. Appoint an Individual to be the Modern Slavery Expert for your Organisation
Accountability is key. Every modern slavery programme needs to have a senior-level manager responsible for setting the direction for the rest of the organisation. By designating this individual at the earliest stage, you are declaring your organisation’s commitment and creating an accountability structure that you will need to drive you forward.
2. Conduct a Basic Modern Slavery Risk Assessment
A good place to start is to ask yourself – if I wanted to find slavery in my supply chain, where would I look first and why? Don’t fall into the trap of simply adopting a “zero tolerance” policy for you and your suppliers. This will get you nowhere because you will never understand your risks or make an impact on the very real and present human right violations taking place. Accept that labour exploitation is probably going on in your supply chain – the goal of your modern slavery programme is to find it.
3. Map the First Tier of Your Supply Chain
Make a list of all your suppliers, including all of your manufacturing sites, labour suppliers, maintenance and security suppliers, warehouses, transportation, and the suppliers of your goods not-for-resale but still necessary to run your business. How do you engage with these individuals and businesses? Do any of them operate in high-risk industries or geographic regions? What are you doing to help them address labour exploitation risks in their operations? How do you hold them accountable?
4. Sign up for Modern Slavery Training
Your entire leadership team should receive modern slavery training, as their engagement and understanding of the issues are critical to your programme. Train your key management personnel as well, including your HR and procurement professionals as they are likely to have the most impact in your modern slavery risk areas. If you operate in a high-risk industry, also train your general workforce to recognise the signs of modern slavery and how to report it. If you can’t afford in-house training, there are plenty of free online and low-cost training classes available.
5. Consider hiring an expert to Help Your Business Develop a Formal Anti-Slavery Plan
Independent third-party consultants are a valuable resource for any business making a commitment to fight modern slavery. They can work with you in a partnership capacity to help you identify your areas of strength, any gaps in your management systems, and provide consultative feedback about developing and improving your programme. And it won’t cost you a fortune as many consultants have partnered with NGOs, government organisations, or created charity-like companies that provide professional services at affordable rates.
The good news is that you are not alone and there are many tools out there to help businesses get started. Don’t worry – no one demands your business to wipe out modern slavery overnight. But taking a few simple steps to get you started will go a long way in helping your business join this important global fight.