Guidance On Modern Slavery – How Clean Is Your Supply Chain?

Modern Slavery has become a really big issue within the human rights and corporate social responsibility agenda in recent years. As many more of us have become aware that the issue is much more widespread than was realised, organisations want to be seen to be doing the right thing and taking measures to try and ensure human rights violations or slavery (of any type) are not happening in their supply chains.

This topic was featured quite strongly in the SAP Ariba event last week, and a number of leaders in the UK procurement and academic sectors have raised it up the UK public sector agenda too. At the LUPC / SUPC university procurement conference a couple of weeks back, a new guidance document was launched which is aimed at helping public procurement folk to understand the issues and take the right action.

While it is aimed at the public sector, virtually all of the content and suggestions are equally applicable to any private sector organisations who want to consider this issue – which means everybody basically (or at least it should).

The authors of the document - “Protecting human rights in the supply chain” - are Andy Davies, who leads the London Universities Purchasing Consortium, and Dr Olga Martin-Ortega from the University of Greenwich. Both also have experience and involvement in these issues through initiatives such as Electronics Watch and the International Learning Lab on Public Procurement and Human Rights. The guide is published by LUPC, the University of Greenwich and CIPS (the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply).

The guide runs through an explanation of the problem, and why it matters to the public sector (just as it should also matter to the private sector, of course). It suggests how practitioners can get started in terms of identifying and prioritising human rights-related risks in their supply chains, and how monitoring can be carried out.

We wrote a longer article about the guidance here on our Public Spend Forum website last week, so you can check that out for more detail. Or you can simply download the document now, and make sure that you are not unwittingly supporting the unpaid employment of schoolchildren (during their “holidays”) in laptop manufacturing facilities in Asia, the use of indentured labour on construction sites in the Middle East, or children dying in mineral mines in Africa.

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First Voice

  1. Colin Maund:

    A good article raising a very important issue. Nor should we forget that it is not just developing countries where modern slavery exists. According to government statistics the UK is estimated to employ some 40,000 slaves mainly in the agricultural and textile sectors. Anyone who buys leeks in almost any high street supermarket is likely to be supporting slavery in the UK. Interesting paper by Dr Steve New of Oxford Said Business School on the subject.. It is the duty of all of us in procurement to stamp out these practices proactively and claiming that we didn’t know is surely no excuse.

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