Tackling Modern Slavery and Forced Labour in Supply Chains – Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate!

  • Written by Laura Houghton
  • Published on 19 June 2018
  • Our Voice
Last week I was delighted to be able to attend another event managed and delivered by Innovation Forum (IF), this time in New York and focussed on  how business can tackle modern slavery and forced labour. The content and line up were again a great fit to the headline, with speakers spanning all areas of this emotive issue; retailers, brands, audit representatives, NGO’s and government bodies. All concentrated on one subject, slavery, and how we can all contribute to the reduction and hopefully one day the eradication.

The two-day event included industry professionals - a selected number of attendees, who all expressed an opinion or interest in the subject.

The sessions were co-ordinated slightly differently to the event I attended in April in Amsterdam, but I felt beneficially so. There were no sessions running in parallel, so everyone was able to attend, listen to, digest and sometimes comment on each session covered. I felt that this added value to the panel discussions and also the conversations during the breaks. Both days really focused on all aspects of Modern Slavery; where, why, when, how and who, together with discussion around sharing the task of highlighting, uncovering and tackling. 

To highlight to you the issue that we face globally;

  • 45.8 Million – is the estimated number of people living in slavery worldwide
  • 75 – is the number of countries where forced or child labour still exists, today

With globally dispersed and complex supply chains resulting in more supply tiers, the harder it becomes to know if human rights are being respected. But it is far from impossible.

I was very privileged to be invited onto a panel discussion this time around. We reviewed how business can go beyond an audit, to develop a much deeper understanding of the interactions within their supply chains using technology, such as Segura. I was able to highlight that although it is good practice to map and nominate those suppliers who are responsible and ethical, if you don’t track the orders and volumes, with a transacted confirmation, then you are just as in the dark as you were before. You have no confirmation that your nominated routes are being adhered to. I refer you to the saying – you can’t manage what you can’t measure!

My key takeaway from this event closely echoed that from the one in April; in order to really drive and orchestrate change there needs to be much more collaboration; both internally within business and also externally with Government and NGO’s. There also needs to be more empathy when sharing experiences of impact; if for example, a business is openly looking for and trying to address occurrences of slavery, then support, understanding and learning is crucial.  

We all were able to agree that with Modern Slavery it is the case of not if an occurrence is found, but when, so utilising the latest technological developments is also critical. 

Again, I cannot commend the IF team enough. They did an excellent job of sourcing experienced, respected and well-informed panellists who each brought their own wealth of knowledge to the discussions held. During both of the events that I have attended, everyone, either as a member of the panel, or as a member of the audience, was open, honest, passionate and driven. IF were able to provide an open forum that delved deeper into the potentially problematic and positive impacts of the fight against Modern Slavery.

These events are so worthwhile. They really allowed open and honest discussions around subjects that are quite difficult to address. Although I am happy to detail my experience, all IF events are subject to the Chatham House rule, so everyone is safe in the knowledge that everything discussed is confidential. I would highly recommend attending any of interest, you won’t be disappointed.  

If you are passionate about driving out occurrences of Modern Slavery within your supply chain, Segura can help so please get in touch.

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