Companies must step up their game to eradicate all traces of forced labour, David Noble, group CEO of the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said in response to claims by the BBC’s “Panorama” programme that child refugees in Turkey are making clothes for UK shops.
“It’s no longer acceptable for businesses to ignore what they can’t see,” said Noble.
“Recent changes to the Modern Slavery Act 2015 mean that businesses must eradicate all traces of forced labour, not only from their own business but from every supplier they buy from at home and abroad. If they are unable to convincingly outline the steps they are taking to make their supply chain slavery-free, they risk damaging both their reputation and their bottom line.”
Noble pointed out that a recent survey conducted by CIPS showed that one in five of businesses who fall under the new rules were unaware of the requirements. Just a third of businesses surveyed claimed to have mapped their suppliers to understand the potential risks and exposure to modern slavery, and more than half admit they would have no idea what to do if slavery were to be found in their supply chains.
“To truly eliminate this evil from UK procurement, businesses need to step up their game. They should start mapping their supply chains properly and put measures in place to monitor malpractice. Ultimately, the legal duty in the Act must not override the moral obligation of us all to make sure our supply chains are slavery-free,” he said.