Modern Slavery in Your Organisation and Supply Chain

There are 4300 identified cases of modern slavery in Australia.

Before you say to yourself we don’t have slavery in Australia you should be aware that modern slavery is  defined as:

  • Forced labour –work or services which people are forced to do against their will under the threat of punishment.
  • Debt bondage or bonded labour – when people borrow money they cannot repay requiring work to pay off the debt losing control over conditions of their employment and debt.
  • Human trafficking–transporting, recruiting or harbouring people for the purpose of exploitation, using violence, threats or coercion.
  • Descent-based slavery –people born into slavery because their ancestors were captured and enslaved;.
  • Child slavery – child slavery occurs when a child’s labour is exploited for someone else’s gain including child trafficking, child soldiers, child marriage and child domestic slavery.
  • Forced and early marriage – when someone is married against their will and cannot leave the marriage. Most child marriages can be considered slavery.

Until now, governments have focused resources on reducing the demand for the use of modern slavery, which is hoped would decrease both the price and demand for modern slaves.  However, there has been a change in how to combat Modern Slavery and the Australian legislators are considering enactment of anti-modern slavery legislation along the lines of the UK Modern Slavery Act, 2015.

Where this could affect your business and being ready to consider whether you have human rights in your business should be addressed in two areas

  1. Internal to the company – identification of risks, development of management system, training and tracking
  2. External to the company – management of human rights risks within the supply chain.

Most companies find that implementing human rights risk management processes within the supply chain daunting due to the complexity of the supply chain. For example large companies have around 3,500 suppliers and to implement risk management processes need careful planning.

The prioritisation process (or human rights risk assessment process) will go a long way in helping to identify

  • key areas of risks, and
  • identify high risk suppliers.

At the end of the day, the development of a human rights management framework should be able to demonstrate conformance to the following 8 questions:

  1. What does the company say publicly about its commitment to respect human rights?
  2. How does the company demonstrate its human rights commitment?
  3. Does the company have any specific policies that address respecting human rights and, if so, what are they?
  4. What is the company’s approach to engagement with stakeholders on human rights?
  5. How does the company identify changes in the nature human rights over time?
  6. How does the company integrate its findings about each salient human rights issue into its decision-making processes and actions?
  7. How does the company know if its efforts to address each human rights issue are effective?
  8. How does the company enable effective remedy if people are harmed by its actions in relation to human rights?

Would you like to know more?  Contact Oy-Cheng Phang at Zoic Environmental

Sustainable Supply Chain

In April, 2017, the International Standards Organization (ISO) released a new standard focused on sustainable procurement.  Here are the three things you need to know.

  1. The purpose of ISO 20400 is to assist organisations with the development and implementation of a responsible sourcing strategy.
  2. ISO 20400 does not contain requirements for suppliers and is not a tool to assess the sustainability performance of suppliers. Rather, it describes how organisations can integrate sustainability into the procurement process.
  3. ISO 20400 uses a holistic definition of sustainability, rather than solely focusing on environmental attributes

So what can small to medium-sized companies do?

Easy strategies include encouraging your suppliers to join training programmes, negotiating with service providers for standardised fees and services for suppliers interested in implementing sustainability management programs. Some suppliers have fully matured sustainability programs, which are well advanced, and inviting these suppliers to share their knowledge would both help to encourage other suppliers to initiate programs, as well as learn.

At the end of the day it pays to encourage your supply chain in sustainable thinking, as opposed to terminating contract due to non-conformance to corporate requirements.

Companies will also need to consider developing a due diligence process to evaluate their supply chain. Often, supplier sustainability performance is conducted through a self-evaluation questionnaire.  Due to constraints on resources, many smaller companies do not develop or implement a due diligence process.  However, for industries involved in fast moving consumer goods, construction, agricultural products, clothing and textile, the need to ensure that a due diligence process is caused primarily due to the risk involved in human rights. If a big company like Nestle can be tainted by cases of bonded and slave labour in their supply chain, the impact of such allegations and findings could be devastating to small and medium sized companies.

The adoption of ISO 20400 is a tangible sign that companies prioritise sustainable procurement, by ensuring a sustainable supply chain.  All critical messages to customers, stakeholders and the wider public.

For further information, contact cheng.phang@zoic.com.au.