#BeBoldForChange — the campaign theme of this year’s International Women’s Day — calls for the forging of a better working world for all women. What can firms do to help tackle forced labor and human trafficking?
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), almost 21 million people are victims of forced labor, including 11.4 million women and girls.
Of those exploited by individuals or enterprises, 4.5 million are victims of forced sexual exploitation — 98% of which are women or girls.
The need for strong legislation to protect women and children from this exploitation was brought home to Americans last year, following the discovery of a sex trafficking ring involving hundreds of Thai women being brought into the country under fraudulent visas.
Although prostitution is the most commonly considered form of human trafficking, it is only one of the many different ways this illicit activity manifests itself.
Supply chain risk
The less publicized practice of forced labor is also a major catalyst and source of human trafficking activity.
The ILO reports that domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment are among the sectors most affected.
Forced labor introduces real supply chain risk to financial institutions, corporations and global enterprises.
A recent study highlighted everything from electronics manufacturing (mining for raw materials, assembly work) to hotel bedding (cotton harvested by forced labor) may in some way have been generated as the result of slave labor.
Watch video — Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) and the risk of not knowing
In a recent Thomson Reuters whitepaper, experts analyzed global trends in board diversity in the Thomson Reuters Diversity & Inclusion Index and found a great disparity between women and men on boards.
The survey of 3,467 companies revealed that women made up only 13% of board positions in the current fiscal year.
However, the analysis reveals that there are positive changes happening across all regions and sectors and that female representation at board level is growing.
This is no cause for complacency though, as over half of the companies analyzed reported that they didn’t have any women on their boards at all.
“From forced labor and trafficking to low wages, harassment, exploitation, and discrimination, the range of abuses women experience linked to the world of work is vast. While more women on corporate boards is a desirable and worthy goal, companies should not assume that fixes all problems. An opportunity for them should not be confused with addressing challenges throughout the rest of the business and its human rights footprint – whether on the shop-floor, the surrounding community, or elsewhere. Companies should take a comprehensive gender-sensitive approach, developed in association with women’s rights and human rights NGO,” says Frances House, Deputy Chief Executive, Institute for Human Rights and Business.
Organizations can take action to prevent human rights abuse, forced labor and inequality aimed at women in their supply chains and within their own workplace.
Full transparency and real insight into third-party risks, such as modern day slavery within supply chains, is necessary to ameliorate the risk faced by corporations and financial institutions, as well as fulfilling obvious ethical obligations.
Thomson Reuters provides technology driven intelligence that allows clients to conduct risk assessments and identify those third parties who represent a heightened risk of forced and bonded labor.
Our Third Party Risk solutions can help organizations:
- Evaluate the level of risk when working with third parties in a given country
- Screen and monitor third parties against millions of profiles to raise potential red flags
- Research deeper into entities and individuals where enhanced due diligence is required
- Provide online training for staff and third parties to help prevent risks from entering your business
Thomson Reuters ESG research data in Eikon has a series of metrics that professionals can use when reviewing a company.
These include the number of women employees and diversity policies, as well as the Diversity and Inclusion Index where it is possible to measure companies against different metrics.
Working with trusted partners can enable organizations to better manage the risks they are exposed to, maximize their sustainable commercial opportunities, avoid reputational damage and demonstrate to regulators they have carried out appropriate due diligence in addition to forging a better working world for all women.