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10 February 2014 | Gurjit Degun
The Modern Slavery Bill should encourage companies to report on what they are doing to make sure there is no malpractice in their supply chains.
Giving evidence in the House of Commons last week, Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said he would support some form of public reporting requirement for end users.
He told MPs on the Joint Select Committee scrutinising the Draft Modern Slavery Bill: “One of the issues that we see in terms of supply chain management in relation to our members is that it is predominantly driven by cost. We think that by getting the end user, the end hirer, to take responsibility for the supply chain would be very effective in tackling slavery.
“Asking public bodies to declare how they’re addressing this issue would [encourage them to] proactively manage their supply chain in making sure it was adhering to best practice.”
He explained the government should encourage the REC’s members to report criminal activity and make sure it does not have a detrimental effect on their business.
CIPS director of business solutions Andrew Coulcher agreed with Green and added there is a need to understand how organisations are taking the requirements of awareness, policy and due diligence further down the supply chain.
“What we don’t see so much of is how that is being cascaded further down the supply chain where a lot of the vulnerability sits,” he said.
Coulcher also said that a collaborative approach between governments, non-governmental organisations such as border control, and industry is key to stamping out slavery in the supply chain.
He added the supply chain can often be a “blind spot” for companies so they need to be given the tools to help them fully understand the complexities of supply chains. “What we would advocate is giving organisations the confidence not to turn a blind eye but to own up to it and work collaboratively with the companies that don’t have best practices in place,” said Coulcher. “Our view is encourage, provide the tools, and confront the issue.”
He also said training and awareness is needed throughout companies to understand what business risks can occur if there is malpractice within the supply chain. “What we find is that there’s a fairly well recognised procurement organisation responsible for contracting the suppliers but quite often there’s a lot of other people in the organisation that have relationships with suppliers,” said Coulcher. “So it’s raising awareness of where these risks might be occurring at all touch points of the organisation.”