Dozens of professionals joined together to share their insights on how they are taking steps to mitigate the risks of modern slavery and labour exploitation in their operations and supply chains.
A total of 120 people – representing 65 organisations – attended a full-day event hosted on 29th September by Slave-Free Alliance, an international social enterprise that supports organisations to protect themselves against the growing issue of modern slavery and labour exploitation.
Jessica Garratt, Slave-Free Alliance Business Manager, said: “The Slave-Free Alliance Seminar was a really positive event and there was fantastic engagement across the board. The event gave our member organisations the opportunity to meet in-person, network and learn from one another. It was fantastic to see members engaging with other businesses in their sector, such as Yodel representatives speaking with Evri and Sunbelt Rentals connecting with Network Rail, but also to see this happening organically across sectors.”
Organisations of all sizes, including John Lewis, Morrisons and FTSE100 retailer Kingfisher plc (owner of the B&Q and Screwfix brands), attended the Slave-Free Alliance seminar, which is exclusive to its members, to hear from leading voices in the anti-slavery movement.
The event, held at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, drew international guest speakers, including Ashley Patton, from US-based investment company Sands Capital, who spoke about responsible investment and how modern slavery, sits in the ESG (environment, social and governance) agenda.
Supermarket Morrisons, waste management company Cory Group, labour provider ALS People and retail giant Kingfisher led a transparency panel. They spoke about their experiences, including identification and remediation of potentially exploited victims root cause analysis and prevention, and how they have used these situations to further their anti-slavery agendas and drive improvement in their business and respective industries.
CEO Louise Taggart of Greenzone, business waste management specialists, spoke to attendees about what their membership programme development looks like, and shared how large organisations can support smaller companies in their supply chains. Greenzone is a valued collaborator in Slave-Free Alliance’s sector-wide Waste and Recycling Modern Slavery Working Group.
Also attending were representatives from Norwegian-based technology firm Dataunitor. Slave-Free Alliance is working with the company to deliver Supply Chain Continuous Compliance (SC3) technology which will provide services for modern slavery risk management and due diligence. Dataunitor were delivering demonstrations of the product, which will be launched soon.
Businesses have their say
Feedback from the Members’ Seminar highlighted that attendees were grateful to connect with other businesses who are committed to addressing to modern slavery and to realise they are part of a wider movement. In the words of one respondent, a valuable take-away from the Slave-Free Alliance Seminar was that “we are not alone going through this process”.
Steven Lanigan, CEO at ALS People, commented on social media following the event: “Thanks to the team for organising such an insightful event, and to the speakers for sharing their respective journeys.”
Jonathan Dobson, Sustainability Strategy Manager at United Utilities, posted on LinkedIn: “Really insightful, inspirational and educational session today at the Slave-Free Alliance seminar. Great to hear from others working to address one of the biggest social issues facing companies.”
Why businesses choose to become Slave-Free Alliance members
One reason organisations choose to join Slave-Free Alliance is because they have identified instances of modern slavery in their operations and/or supply chains, and want expert support to respond. Businesses often choose to extend their membership with Slave-Free Alliance to receive ongoing specialist input in their anti-slavery programme developments.
Others say they joined to be industry-leading, and to create mature anti-slavery programmes, while some say their priority is support in navigating their response to new legislation and regulations governing due diligence and transparency, such as the evolving requirements under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
Marc Stanton, Slave-Free Alliance Director, said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking is thought to be the world’s joint third-largest criminal enterprise, making $150 billion annually in illegal profits. We are working in a high-risk field and modern slavery can happen at any time. That is why at Slave-Free Alliance we are committed to supporting organisations across every industry with their moral and legal responsibility for managing modern slavery risks within their organisations and supply chains. We support organisations to develop an action plan and use consultancy, training and technology to mature their initiatives. From due diligence, risk management, site assessments to incident escalation pathways, we always take a partnership approach to drive improvements.
“We are proud of all organisations who have joined our membership programme and are already addressing modern slavery in their organisations and supply chains. We would urge businesses of all shapes and sizes who have not yet signed up to contact our team of specialists and find out how we can support you to protect your organisation and its workers against this crime – a crime that takes away people’s freedom. Join us in leading the fight against this cruel trade in human life.”
Slave-Free Alliance membership and events
Slave-Free Alliance is wholly owned by the charity Hope for Justice, and all profits are reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects around the world. Slave-Free Alliance operates in the UK, USA, Australia and Slave-Free Alliance recently launched in Norway.
Enrique Restoy, Hope for Justice’s International Programmes Director, said: “Slave-Free Alliance comprises many leading companies of all sizes worldwide who are truly committed to a slave-free supply chain. Slave-Free Alliance also contributes to the efforts of Hope for Justice around the world to end all forms of modern slavery. It was a pleasure to join the Slave-Free Alliance conference in Manchester and to learn from so many inspiring business leaders.”
Membership of Slave-Free Alliance is open to organisations of all sizes. To explore how the team at Slave-Free Alliance can help you to protect your organisation from the growing threat of modern slavery, visit https://www.slavefreealliance.org/
Slave-Free Alliance is hosting an open webinar with Koray Köse, Senior Director at world-renowned consulting company Gartner. The online event on 25th October 2022 will address supply chain visibility and exploitation threat management. The event is free and you can sign up here.