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Transparency in supply chains

Across the globe, millions of people are forced to work against their will in factories, on construction sites and on farms or fishing boats. Many of these people – and the goods they produce with their labour – are part of vast and complex global supply chains. While globalisation has brought benefits for companies and consumers through higher profits, lower prices and more choice, it has also created the conditions for abuses to flourish far from the eyes of those enjoying these benefits.

Eradicating slavery requires greater transparency and accountability in supply chains. In recent years, the introduction of legal and regulatory frameworks such as the UK Modern Slavery Act has helped transform awareness in the corporate sector of the issue of modern slavery and forced labour, and the risks posed by extended supply chains. Increasingly, governments and businesses are taking positive steps to improve supply chain standards and tackle abuses.

Our Transparency in Supply Chains initiative supports these efforts through the development of tools for business, government and civil society to incentivise the adoption of supply chain transparency standards and promote responsible business practices.

  • We provide core support to the Modern Slavery Registry, an open-access portal of company statements submitted under the UK Modern Slavery Act, managed by the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. The Registry currently includes more than 5,000 company statements.
  • Since 2016 we have partnered with World Vision to promote the adoption of supply chain transparency legislation in Canada.
  • We have supported Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) to develop the Labour Exploitation Accountability Hub, a database of corporate accountability mechanisms around the world.
  • We are currently supporting a research project by FLEX to develop a corporate accountability blueprint with a focus on improving working conditions in global supply chains.

USING INVESTOR LEVERAGE TO ERADICATE SLAVERY

Businesses, including financial institutions, have an important role to play in preventing modern slavery. Investors are increasingly aware of the potential reputational and financial damage to companies that are found to have slavery in their supply chains.

The Freedom Fund’s engagement with this sector is guided by our Business Advisory Council, a group of business experts who draw on their extensive corporate and financial experience to inform our supply chain initiatives.

We have provided funding for two projects focusing on how the financial sector can use its leverage with business to disrupt modern slavery.

  • A report by Boundless Impact Investing exploring the potential of Labour Lens Investing – a new investment model that assesses the labour conditions of workers in global supply chains.
  • A research project led by the Royal United Services Institute on the role of financial institutions in driving up anti-modern slavery standards through responsible lending and financing decisions.
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