Modern slavery and human rights in business

How to tackle modern slavery and the business benefits

Guide

A focus on tackling modern slavery will not only help protect vulnerable workers and prevent human rights violations but bring a number of key business benefits too.

Benefits of tackling modern slavery for business

  • Improved brand recognition.
  • Positive business reputation.
  • Increased sales and customer loyalty, as consumers seeks businesses with higher ethical standards.
  • Greater ability to attract talent and staff retention.
  • Organisational growth.
  • Improved investor confidence.
  • More responsive and stable supply chains.

Steps to reduce modern slavery in your business and supply chains

Businesses can take a number of key actions to eliminate the exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain within their organisations and supply chains. These include:

  • Highlight your commitment - publish a slavery and human trafficking statement to demonstrate the steps your business is taking to prevent modern slavery.  You could consider producing this even if your business has an annual turnover below £36 million. See write a slavery and human trafficking statement
  • Implement policies - develop new policies and adapt existing ones to address the elimination of modern slavery.
  • Compile a supplier code of conduct and include contract clauses - formally explain how you expect suppliers to operate to avoid labour exploitation and include clauses on modern slavery in their contracts.
  • Monitor supply chains - regularly evaluate direct and indirect suppliers. Take active steps to engage with your suppliers and try to effect change where it is required. If your business does not have the leverage to prevent unlawful practices you could try to increase it. You may achieve this by offering incentives or collaborating with other suppliers to influence change. In situations where your business is unable to increase its leverage, you should consider ending the supplier relationship. The more complex the situation and its implications for human rights, it is advisable to draw on independent expert advice in deciding how to respond. Read further information in the United Nation's Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights (PDF, 1.08MB).
  • Conduct a human rights impact assessment - identify high-risk areas where modern slavery could exist - eg where there may be a reliance on low or unskilled labour and using suppliers based in high-risk countries. Track results and communicate how these areas were addressed.
  • Develop a process for making key business decisions - identify supplier standard levels that meet your expectations in human rights.
  • Communicate with senior staff - secure buy-in and formally agree what your organisation wants to achieve.
  • Establish clear guidelines and procedures for all staff - communicate to staff on how they can report their concerns and whistleblow on modern slavery - provide training where necessary.

In addition to having a clear action plan to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking, it is recommended that businesses be vigilant and continuously consider how to improve their existing activity.