What’s in their transparency report? Apple and John Lewis

28 July 2016

The UN World Day Against Trafficking in Persons takes place this Saturday to highlight the plight of humans who have been trafficked or are in forced labour.

The UN estimates 21m people are in forced labour internationally. The Global Slavery Index estimates this figure is 46m.

“I am dismayed by the exploitation suffered by our fellow human beings who are being forced to labour with little or no pay,” said William Lacy Swing, director general of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Victims of trafficking and forced labour can be found in the supply chains of every sector. “[They are] on farms, in fishing boats, in factories, on construction sites, in pit mines, hidden away in private homes, or forced into sexual exploitation against their will by armed groups,” said Swing.

Under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, all businesses active in the UK with a turnover of more than £36m must write annual reports explaining what they have done to find and tackle modern slavery in their supply chains.

Supply Management has read the reports of two major companies. Below is what they say.


Apple’s report said it actively looks for issues in its supply chain, “so that we can identify, assess, and fix them”.

The company said it uses local third party auditors to conduct physical inspections, and claims to have audited all of the facilities on their top 200 suppliers list that “most at risk of hiring foreign workers”.

To eradicate bonded labour, Apple said it requires all its supplier to reimburse any employment fees for its workers. “Since our programme began in 2008, reimbursements to over 33,000 foreign contract workers totalled US$25.6m,” the report said.

Apple also said it runs training programmes for suppliers identified as having a high risk of using forced or trafficked labour.

“Suppliers hire significantly more workers before new product launches, in some cases nearly doubling their workforce. During this critical period of peak production, we send a team on site to provide hands-on guidance,” it said.

John Lewis Partnership

Because the modern slavery risk varies from country to country, John Lewis said it has developed factsheets for different sourcing countries. These fact sheets include information on workforce demographic, dominant export products, the human rights situations and common factory conditions. 

To do this, John Lewis says it has mapped out its risks using global activity indicators including the UN Human Rights and Business Dilemmas Forum and the Trade Union Conference Global Rights Index.

As well as using an in house team of “ethical trading experts”, John Lewis said it also uses independent risk management tools such as Maplecroft.

“John Lewis has a ‘no-audit no order policy’,” the report said, adding: “any factory, irrespective of its risk profile, needs to have an independent audit carried out.”

When suppliers fail to meet standards or concerns are reported, John Lewis said it uses time-bound remediation plans.

“Wherever possible we would work with our supplier to improve conditions for workers involved and consider the permanent de-listing of suppliers as the last resort,” it said.

Hear Paul Bestford, John Lewis Partnership CPO, speaking at this year’s CIPS Annual Conference. Book your tickets here.

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