Key Practices to Eliminate Modern Slavery in Supply Chains

Modern slavery exists and is a serious problem in our world. Millions of people worldwide fall victim to the coercive techniques of human traffickers. 

The products we consume and use daily exist because of this deviously hidden market. How can you ensure that your company's products don't exist because of modern slavery?

Keep reading about how modern slavery impacts supply chains and how you can ensure that your company isn't profiting because of someone else's evil actions. 

What Is Modern-Day Slavery?

Slavery still exists in our world. When you hear the terms "human trafficking," "trafficking in persons," and "modern slavery," the terms all refer to forced labour or sex trafficking. The U.S. State Department estimates that nearly 25 million people are currently being trafficked worldwide. Trafficking also refers to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, forced labour, or any practices similar to slavery.

In short, whenever a person is forced to work under the duress of punishment and not allowed to go home, they're victims of modern-day slavery. Human trafficking does not necessarily require movement. People can be victims of modern-day slavery, whether they're transported to an exploitative situation, exploited in their hometown, or born into service.

Human traffickers will enslave their victims by using deceptive practices and coercive techniques. Once a trafficker exploits a person's labour by deception, abuse of a legal process, psychological coercion, physical threats, or other coercive means, the employee is now a trafficking victim.

Here are the most common examples of modern slavery. 

Debt Bondage

Modern slavery succeeds when the trafficker holds a debt or a bond over the victim. Some of the enslaved people will inherit their debt. In South Asia, millions of victims work to pay off ancestral debt. 

Others will incur a debt when a trafficker pays their way or purchases something for them. Traffickers will charge worker recruitment fees or outrageous interest rates. Such practices make paying the debt nearly impossible.

Often a trafficker will threaten their victim. If the worker's legal residency is tied to the employer, the worker will fear seeking help because they do not want to go back to their original country. 

Domestic Servitude

Domestic work is not a crime by itself. When a domestic worker is not free to leave their employment or if they're abused or underpaid, they're a victim of modern-day slavery. Often employers will not give their domestic workers basic protections and benefits due to them, things as simple as a day off.

Often an employer will limit the worker's ability to move freely. Employment in a private home will increase the domestic servant's vulnerability and isolation. To make matters worse, labour officials generally cannot legally inspect employment conditions in a private home.

When the trafficker or employer has diplomatic status, they will be immune from the civil or criminal jurisdiction that would protect their domestic servant. This makes the domestic servant even more vulnerable. 

Child Labour

Children may legally work in some forms. However, their innocence makes them vulnerable to slavery or slavery-like situations. You can suspect a case of forced child labour when you see non-family members forcing a child to work in a way that benefits that person financially. If the individual does not allow the child to leave, the child is a victim of modern-day slavery.

Child labour includes the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers. This happens in countries that need a military force. They will recruit and use children as combatants in their military.

In these cases, combatants will kidnap children. They may have them work as soldiers or make them guards, cooks, messengers, porters, or spies. Girls may be forcibly married to or raped by male combatants and commanders.

Such actions make the children victims of slave labour and child sex trafficking.

Key Practices to Eliminate Modern-Day Slavery in Supply Chains

If modern-day slavery occurs when individuals are forced to work, what is supply chain slavery? This occurs when a child or any individual is forced to participate in any part of the supply chain. This can include the picking of raw materials, manufacturing of goods, or shipping and delivery of products.

Here are some essential practices to help your employees and business avoid the temptation of slave labour. 

1. Train Employees

You can combat modern slavery and supply chain slavery by training your employees in procurement. You can also teach them how to spot and report signs of modern slavery throughout the supply chain.

This training should further explain and reinforce the code of conduct in your organisation. It will enhance your business's principles for ethical business practice.

2. Identify Risks

You can track modern slavery in Australia by assessing your supply chain risks from beginning to end. Look at all the suppliers, contractors, and labour suppliers, both direct and indirect. Then take steps o reduce the risk of slavery in every part of your supply chain. 

3. Do Regular Audits

Conduct a factory audit regularly. This audit will examine how the manufacturers in the supply chain source their material and labour. It will examine how ethically they conduct their business.

An audit will force you to engage with all the local stakeholders in different geographical locations. These local stakeholders will best understand their local operating environment. They can identify the highest risks for worker exploitation. 

4. Implement Policies

Once you've conducted your audit, implement written policies for your suppliers. These policies should outline standards for ethical behaviour in the environment, labour, health, and safety. Have your suppliers undergo training that explains how their contracts obligate them to comply with the stated ethical practices. 

5. Prioritise Integrity

Make integrity a priority in your business. You will profit most from this practice and by instituting a modern slavery policy in Australia. Create incentives for the supplier leadership to stop modern slavery.

All stakeholders, from consumers to regulators, investors to business partners, expect companies to practice integrity and avoid all possibilities of modern-day slavery. When you prioritise this, your stakeholders will respect you even more, and your business will grow.

Seek Outside Help

To make a difference and avoid unethical practices, bring in an outside team that specialises in such audits. You will obtain the ethical approval certification that indicates your business is doing its utmost due diligent to prevent infringing any modern slavery laws and combatting human trafficking.

Seek to have your products certified by a company like Azolla.

Do you want to assure your customers that you're doing everything possible to produce your products ethically? Contact us today. We can provide peace of mind to businesses and help your brand achieve sustainable and ethical practices. 

Back to blog