It has been one year since the release of the UK Modern Slavery Act (MSA) 2015, and many companies have yet to publish their first MSA statements, with some missing the deadline completely as highlighted in a recent survey.
What is clear is that there is a great variation in the scope and quality of the MSA statements that have been published, despite the clear guidance provided by the UK Government on what should be included. Other investigations have also shown that many fall short in their disclosure, and that they have failed to comply with the legislation by not having the statement signed by a main board director or not publishing the statement prominently on their website.
What You Need To Know About Modern Slavery Statements
Companies who see the MSA as merely a statement of compliance have missed the point of the MSA. The MSA is becoming a powerful tool to wake up organizations to the prevalence of modern slavery and human trafficking, and the need for supply chain transparency and due diligence. Your stakeholders (be they your customers, NGOs or government) are holding you to account when human rights abuses are highlighted in your supply chain.
There have been a number of high profile cases in the news over the last few months and the reputational impacts are clear.
Take for instance the news coverage in October last year regarding refugees working in Turkish clothing factories, making garments which were destined for UK high street brands. These refugees, some of whom were children, were illegally employed through middle men, paid below the country’s national wage, and found working in hazardous conditions. And the food industry also made the modern slavery headlines late last year, when a gangmaster firm who supplied poultry to many UK retailers was found to exploit their workers by withholding wages and failing to provide even the most basic facilities for their staff. The firm must now pay out £1m in legal fees and compensation to six migrant workers, the first modern slavery conviction to happen here in the UK – and another 10 workers are expected to bring claims against the firm this year.
The Real Opportunity – Making Your Supply Chain Ethical And Resilient
The MSA guidance stated that companies are expected to make progress year-on-year. The MSA compliance process gives businesses a real opportunity to improve their supply chains, by focusing on how your policies and procedures address modern slavery, and identifying gaps and actions that need to take place.
Through the structured approach that we recommend, you will have a detailed overview of the high risk supply categories, or ‘hotspots’, that have the potential to impact on your value chain. Additionally, it will help you to develop your relationship with your suppliers, and shape good practice by understanding where you can have the biggest influence for positive change.
And that will enable you to not only comply with the MSA, but also demonstrate to your investors and other stakeholders that your business is responsible, well managed, and resilient to future shocks and scandals.
At Anthesis, we have proven expertise and experience delivering programs and support to supply chain and enterprise risk management professionals. See our case study on how we supported a global financial services organization comply with the Modern Slavery Act. Our combination of strategic insight, supply chain risk screening and change management provides an end-to-end solution for your entire supply chain.
Get in touch with Chris Stanley if you’d like to discuss your organization’s supply chain, or alternatively, fill out our form below.