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Modern slavery

What role does corporate leadership play in tackling modern slavery?

Directors and board members have oversight for tackling modern slavery. But due to many pressures where is this on the boardroom agenda?

The UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 requires all commercial organizations with business operations in the UK with a global annual turnover of £36m or more to complete a slavery and human trafficking statement.

The statement should set out all the steps the company is taking to ensure modern slavery is not taking place in their operations or supply chains.

One of the most important elements of the legislation is that the modern slavery statement must be signed off by directors or board members of companies. But unfortunately, not enough are waking up to the fact that company leaders are accountable for the human rights impacts of their operations and businesses, says Cindy Berman, head of Knowledge and Learning at the Ethical Trading Initiative in a her blog “Does corporate leadership matter in tackling modern slavery?.”

How well are companies currently reporting on modern slavery?

Company performance on modern slavery reporting to date has not been impressive. Analyzing the first 75 modern slavery statements, the NGO Core Coalition found that only 22 met the minimum requirements of being both signed by a director and available on the company’s website. The review of over 240 Modern Slavery Statements by Ergon Associates revealed that with some exceptions, most statements fail to go further than general commitments and bland reference to processes.

Quote from Cindy Berman

What is the role of corporate leadership in addressing modern slavery?

Previous research into corporate responses to address modern slavery found that 71% of companies saw a high likelihood of slavery in their supply chains and highlighted the importance of leadership in tackling the problem. Read more and take part in a new survey by the Ethical Trading Initiative and Hult International Business School to benchmark corporate leadership attitudes to modern slavery and the impact of the UK Modern Slavery Act on company approaches and practices in relation to labour rights.


Learn more

How are you managing the compliance requirements of the UK Modern Slavery Act? (Webcast recording)
Businesses play key role in fight against slavery
Is there something fishy in your supply chain?
The importance of knowing your third party

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