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Survey shows businesses need to do more to break shackles of modern slavery

The Modern Day Slavery Survey 2017 Report, published by compliance specialist Altius, shows that UK businesses need to do more to tackle modern slavery across their supply chains.

The survey of supply chain, procurement and health & safety managers finds that there is a strong desire to break the shackles of modern slavery. But 82 per cent of respondents said that they wanted to see members of the senior leadership team do more to ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.

Effective leadership missing

While 80 per cent of the survey respondents said that their organisations had a Modern Slavery policy, only 60 per cent thought that this had been communicated clearly through the business. And 45 per cent said that they couldn’t see any evidence that the Modern Slavery Act was being adhered to.

The survey also raises questions about effective leadership. One in three of those surveyed admitted that they did not know who had ultimate responsibility for modern slavery compliance in the business.

Only 38% of survey respondents had processes in place to ensure Modern Slavery compliance within their supply chain, with only one-in-four having re-assessed their suppliers since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015.

Actions and implementation required

Len Simmons, Chief Operating Officer for Altius, said: “Too often, the responsibility for compliance falls awkwardly between procurement, health and safety and contract managers. It is vital that these parties come together, with support from their senior colleagues, to share the collective responsibility of understanding and implementing effective policies to prevent slave labour.

“Simply having a code of conduct or ethical procurement policy isn’t enough. Businesses need to act on and implement their policies to ensure both they and their suppliers are compliant. The same applies to procurement processes – modern slavery compliance should be ingrained in every audit and questionnaire completed by suppliers.”

Support from the Select Committee

In a foreword to the report, The Bishop of Derby, The Rt Revd Dr Alastair Redfern, who is a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee that drafted the Modern Slavery Bill, writes: Modern Slavery legislation recognises the important role of businesses – to ensure that they are not using slave labour, especially in supply chains and through agency workers.”

“This report is a model of how businesses can be encouraged to recognise the realities of the challenge of Modern Slavery, and to identify areas for improvement and the development of good practice.”

A ‘hard slog’ to full compliance

Dr. Dave Walsh, Associate Professor at the University of Derby, which collaborated with Altius to produce the report, claims that private sector companies face a ‘hard slog’ to full compliance, not least because modern slavery can be so difficult to identify.

He said: “In contrast to historical slavery systems characterised by whips, chains, and physical imprisonment, modern day slavery is less overt, typically with no obvious visible signs of restraint.”

Altius provides compliance software and management services to help organisations identify and eliminate the risk of  modern slavery across their supply chains. To download a full copy of the Modern Day Slavery Survey Report, Click Here.

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