Cherie Blair: Purchasers can lead slavery fight

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
14 March 2014

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14 March 2014 | Paul Snell

Procurement professionals are well placed to lead the fight against modern-day slavery, says Cherie Blair.

Speaking to Supply Management in an exclusive interview at the CIPS Annual Dinner, she said it is not possible to pretend the problem is not your concern “because at a very basic level – the food that we eat, the clothes that we wear – could have slavery somewhere within their supply chain.”

But, she added, company purchasers are in a strong position to tackle the issue and drive improvement to make a positive difference to the situation.

“As consumers, there are certainly things we can do about it, but the decisions you make in your industry have an even greater reach. Your choices can even help my choices be much easier.”

Because slavery is conducted in secret, it makes it tough to enforce regulations and legislation. Blair highlighted this was where purchasers could provide support on the issue.

“Purchasers can strengthen their skills and tools to expose this and that is very important because if a lot of people knew the truth, they would certainly want it changed.”

With supply chains increasingly complex and global, uncovering slavery and ethical malpractice is often challenging for buyers. But, this is not an excuse to do nothing, she said.

“I absolutely appreciate that it is difficult sometimes to control the supply chain. That is why it is important to have systems in place to adopt best practice. Not to just have policies that say this, but actually implement those policies, so not only the company and its employees, but also its supply chain, understand what it means to be part of this company’s family.”

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