Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, has written a letter to corporate CEOs in which he states: “The trend for business and human rights regulation is on an upward trajectory and the issue of slavery will remain firmly in the spotlight. Companies stuck in a mindset of ‘what’s the minimum I need to do’ are not only putting human lives at risk but are also missing out on opportunities to use ethical business practices as a competitive edge.
Despite some positive steps forward since the Modern Slavery Act and a number of good statements being published, I remain disappointed that analysis has shown the quality to be weak overall. Many fail to meet the minimum requirements of being placed on a company’s home page or signed off by senior leadership. Even statements that do legally comply have a lot of room for improvement with many simply being reiterations of generic human rights policies.
Of course, change takes time and I expect companies to be building on their statements year on year. I want to see companies working to understand their industry specific risks as they build on their statements each year. I expect companies to be examining which commodities and operating regions are high risk and why, and, providing detailed information on what is being done to mitigate these identified risks.”