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Supply chained: removing modern slavery from procurement

Supply chained: removing modern slavery from procurement

A new short video course aims to eradicate slavery from supply chains by educating procurement teams in taking action to prevent human exploitation. A supply chain can consist of hundreds of contractors, subcontractors, agencies and suppliers with complex relationships and varying standards. It might be possible for companies to know all about the provenance of suppliers in the first and second layers in their supply chain, but exploring it in depth to trace materials right back to their origins is nearly impossible.

A single instance of modern slavery in a supply chain can taint all the companies involved in that chain. This course is designed to help companies avoid becoming complicit in human labour abuses by educating them about where modern slavery can hide in the supply chain, how to find it, and how to stop it.

Common problems include differences between board-level policy and real-world procedures, corruption in the supply chain, increased or unscheduled demand, lack of resources to enforce policies, constant demand to lower prices, and general lack of awareness.

Procurement teams learn to perform risk assessments by reviewing which products and raw materials are in their supply chain and which countries they pass through. Particular risks present in specific countries are highlighted. To give a random example, in Thailand, migrants entering or leaving the country can become subject to exploitation and forced labour. In some cases their passports are confiscated, they may be forced to pay extortionate agency fees which leave them with next to nothing in hand, child labour and sexual exploitation are prevalent, and threats of violence and intimidation are common. Industries of particular concern are fish, garments, shrimp and sugar cane.

High risk products round the world include bricks, clothing, chocolate, cotton, electronic devices, footwear, palm oil, rubber, timber and rice. To give another example, rubber plantations in Liberia are controlled by gangs and warlords and are rife with child labour exploitation. These plantations supply raw material to the world’s major companies in the rubber industry. Those companies, and those who buy from them, can improve their real-world corporate social responsibility by investing in this course. A demo is available here.

The course is provided by VinciWorks, an online compliance training company. It follows on from their well-received course on the Modern Slavery Act, the 2015 UK government legislation designed to tackle trafficking and slavery.