Jan. 11 Is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Are Companies Listening?

Jan 11, 2017 12:40 PM ET

Jan. 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day, Are Companies Listening?

Companies that adopt comprehensive and assertive ethical sourcing practices reap many benefits, including increased consumer trust and an improved reputation. One of the most vital and visible components of any ethical sourcing program is to ensure that products do not support human trafficking and modern day slavery.

As highlighted in a recent article in Supply Chain DIVE, the risks to companies that could be exposed for contributing to slave labor are increasing exponentially. Governments have begun to prosecute companies for their connection to suppliers with slave labor practices. Consumer demand for ethically-sourced products is growing as well.

There are steps companies can take immediately – and with little effort – to reduce or eliminate these risks.  In recognition of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention day today, companies can renew their commitments to ethical sourcing investigative processes to provide assurances that their products do not involve slave labor.

Often, the challenge for companies is that slave labor may not be present in the first tier of a company’s supply chain. Nestlé had a strict policy against slave labor in its products, but multiple levels of supply chains effectively hid the connection; media articles linked Nestlé products to Thailand seafood producers who were using slave and forced labor. To its credit, Nestlé quickly began its own investigations, resulting in disclosures that its customers unwittingly purchased products that were tainted by slave labor. At the time, Nestlé was one of the largest global enterprises to make such a proactive public declaration and to commit additional resources to investigating its supply chain for slave labor. 

As a testament to the challenges that companies face with investigating supply chain slavery, many other leading companies made public commitments to ethical sourcing initiatives and to combat human trafficking and child labor in 2016. Most notably, dozens of well-known companies announced initiatives to stem the flow of cobalt produced by child labor toward the end of 2016. Cobalt is a key component of batteries used for computers, electric vehicles and more. 

Technology tools provide companies cost-efficient systems for digging deeper into their supply chains. Source Intelligence is the global leader for supply chain investigations and verification solutions. The company’s unique platform tracks hundreds of thousands of supply chains, has the largest supplier data base and quickly alerts companies to potential problems. 

A complementary webinar by Source Intelligence can show companies how to develop a robust human trafficking program. To view the webinar, click here.