Wait a second… What?
That was my exact reaction too. In fact, modern slavery is all around us. (More than you may think).
You’re probably wondering: Wasn’t slavery abolished internationally in 1948 when the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
It’s almost 2023 and we live in an age where approximately 50 million people, a quarter of which are children, are trapped in modern slavery. They are are forced to work and get married, and are being exploited sexually every single day.
While modern day slavery is widespread, many of us are unaware of what’s going on and the different forms of slavery that exist. You might be surprised to find that a large portion of slavery in today’s day and age is facilitated through different corporations. Furthermore, it can be found in companies of all different industries and sizes, and in every stage of the supply chain – from raw materials to manufacturing to shipping. Knowing about modern slavery is a responsibility every business should take on, because it is possible that you are working with suppliers who use slaves, without even realizing it.
Today, there are over 27 million people forced into labor. Many would say their business doesn’t tolerate modern slavery, but, when hundreds or even thousands of suppliers are added into the picture, how can you be so sure they aren’t using forced labor?
As explained by Anti-Slavery International, the oldest international human rights organization in the world, there are different forms of slavery today:
Human trafficking – “The use of violence, threats or coercion to transport, recruit or harbour people in order to exploit them for purposes such as forced prostitution, labour, criminality, marriage or organ removal.”
Forced labor – “Any work or services people are forced to do against their will, usually under threat of punishment.”
Debt bondage/bonded labor – “The world’s most widespread form of slavery. People trapped in poverty borrow money and are forced to work to pay off the debt, losing control over both their employment conditions and the debt.”
Descent–based slavery – “A very old form of slavery, where people are treated as property, and their “slave” status has been passed down the maternal line.”
Child slavery – “When a child is exploited for someone else’s gain. This can include child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery.”
Forced and early marriage – “When someone is married against their will and cannot leave. Most child marriages can be considered slavery”
Domestic servitude – “Domestic work and domestic servitude are not always slavery, and when properly regulated can be an important source of income for many people. However, when someone is working in another person’s home, they may be particularly vulnerable to abuses, exploitation, and slavery, as they might be hidden from sight and lack legal protection.”
Why should your company care?
First off, I don’t think any company would be proud to say they use slaves. But besides that point, imprisonment up to life imprisonment and heavy fines are amongst the penalties. In addition, more countries are enforcing modern day slavery regulations and companies will need to show proof of compliance as time goes on. Not complying to modern slavery regulations will in turn make your company unappealing to investors and ultimately the end user. For example, in the United Kingdom, the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 requires businesses to report on steps they have taken to reduce modern slavery in their supply chains. With modern slavery so rampant in the United Kingdom, the legislation applies to commercial organizations that:
are a body corporate or a partnership (described as an ‘organization’ in this service), wherever incorporated
carry on a business, or part of a business, in the UK
supply goods or services
have an annual turnover of £36 million or more
Currently, many organizations provide a modern slavery statement voluntarily, but in the near future, the requirement will be extended to segments of the public sector as well.
Not sure where to start? Findings gives you a platform to show track your compliance. By doing so, you are demonstrating to other enterprises that they can trust doing business with you. In addition, Findings offers assessment tools that enable you to easily evaluate whether your business is staying compliant with modern slavery regulations.
Findings is proud of the work we do and we fully support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Learn more about how we can help you address modern slavery here.