Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, recently made his opinions known on the issue of slavery in modern supply chains. He argued that companies have an obligation to ensure supply chain visibility, and now the law in the UK agrees with him. So how can organisations achieve this level of transparency?
Slavery hidden within supply chains
At least 21 to 26 million people are enslaved worldwide, though many think the number is much higher. More than 75% of these slaves are in forced labour, working in mines, fields or factories for global supply chains.
Slavery is not legal anywhere, but is present even in developed countries, and there are 60,000 slaves in the US alone. Human traffickers generate around $150 billion each year from the highly illegal business, and many companies may be indirectly benefitting from it too.
“Slavery is a business issue”, Branson claimed. “As business leaders, it is our responsibility to ensure our products and services are not tainted by slavery.”
“Slavery - even hidden deep inside a company's supply chain - is odious. We can never turn a blind eye to it, or believe that it is too complex to tackle.”
The Modern Slavery Bill
Last month, the British Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Bill, increasing the punishment for traffickers and requesting UK companies to become active participants in the drive towards supply chain visibility.
Traffickers can now have their assets seized by the authorities, be forced to pay victims compensation, and face life imprisonment.
Businesses are also required to disclose what action they have taken to ensure their supply chains are free from slave labour. While this doesn’t yet enforce liability, it will require businesses to actively consider slavery within their business strategies, as well as raising public awareness.
Branson also points out that these disclosures need to be signed by a company director, creating clear accountability for supply chain visibility at the very top of an organisation.
However, companies can face many supply chain visibility challenges. For some organisations, control of what happens in their supply chain effectively stops the moment an order is placed with a supplier. How do you know whether goods were ethically sourced or produced?
Segura’s cloud-based technology creates a comprehensive audit trail that allows you to track each of your orders with your direct suppliers and back through the extended supply chain. We trace the journey of each item through your approved network of compliant suppliers, and alert you if an order is not placed in the approved manner.
Our supply chain visibility solution offers comprehensive triggered alert functions and extensive EDI and reporting capabilities. This enables us to interface directly with your business to ensure complete transparency across your global primary and secondary supply chains in real time.
Mapping out the entire supply chain link by link ensures that your business can maintain quality, profitability and ethicacy. Once you can identify each and every supplier, you can ensure that they comply with the standards that you, your customers and government legislation requires.
Originally published 24/04/2015