An online self assessment tool will help businesses improve their due diligence in preventing modern slavery and other supply chain labour abuses.
The tool is being developed by built environment research group BRE, and is based on the organisation’s existing Ethical Labour Sourcing (ELS) framework.
BRE hopes that, by creating an interactive assessment tool, more businesses will be able to access and use the framework. It will be launched on Tuesday 17 April 2018 at an event in Parliament.
The original ELS framework was developed for the construction sector, but Dr Shamir Ghumra, director of sustainable products at BRE, said he hopes the online tool will be useful to other sectors. Speaking to SM, Ghumra said: “Accessibility is the real reason why we’re planning to take it online.
“Yes we are the custodians of the built environment, but we see ELS as a platform being used by anybody doing anything, whether they’re in the built environment or not.”
The online tool will be an interactive and updated version of the ELS framework and will including response prompts and the ability to submit documentation as evidence. It will help businesses assess the maturity of their ethical sourcing policies are identify what the needs to be done to improve.
The language in the online version of the framework is being amended to be more accessible to smaller businesses and those outside the construction sector.
“People liked the content [of the original framework] and how we were driving improvement through maturity profiles and levels, but some of the paragraphs were a bit chunky,” said Ghumra. “So we’ve broken them down into shorter sentences, made it clearly as to what an organisation needs to be doing at certain maturity levels.”
The plan was always to make a second version “more accessible to a greater proportion of society”, he added.
Ghumra said while it is impossible to completely eradicate the risk of labour abuses in supply chains, businesses are now more open to scrutiny and it was important to be able to demonstrate strong and improving governance within business.
“Whether you’re a big or small company, part of that recognition, in better corporate governance particularly, is about asking yourselves, ‘What are we doing around ethical labour sourcing challenges, human rights due diligence in supply chains?’” he said.
“You can’t prove the absolute negative, but that doesn’t stop us and shouldn’t stop us from actually seeking to challenge certain practices or challenge what we’ve done in the past or move things on in terms of a better way of managing our businesses and our risk.”
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