We have an obligation to eliminate slavery in our supply chains – and to help those who have suffered abuse integrate back into society, says CIPS director Cath Hill
Back in 2013, I had a meeting with CIPS’ then CEO, the late David Noble. I remember it clearly, as he told me he wanted me to take the lead on a CIPS campaign to help end modern slavery. Like most of you, I wasn’t even aware that this was still a problem in the modern world. I certainly didn’t realise the extent of the problem. We have come a long way since then, building up our understanding of this significant issue and positioning CIPS as a credible thought leader, galvanised by the signing of an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Kevin Hyland, the UK’s Anti-slavery commissioner, and Paul Broadbent, CEO of the Gangmaster Labour Abuse Authority in 2015.
It is almost two years since we relaunched Supply Management with a hard-hitting front cover marking the start of our “Eliminate Supply Chain Slavery” campaign. Ninety one per cent of our readers said that Supply Management’s coverage of slavery and the UK & Modern Slavery Act helped increase their awareness and understanding of the issue. When we surveyed our members back in 2015, 52% of UK supply managers said they would not know what to do if they found modern slavery in their supply chains. Now that figure is only 16.5%, which makes us very proud that the key messages in our campaign are making an impact.
More recently we met with Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, a passionate campaigner dedicated to making changes within government procurement to make a bigger impact on improving the lives of others. We will be working with Lola on several projects, including a consumer campaign to raise awareness of modern slavery and the action our favourite brands are taking to ensure their supply chains remain slave-free. Lola’s other big passions are fashion and football, and her hope is to reach out to young consumers to raise awareness of modern slavery.
Our most recent survey found that a third of organisations required to produce a statement under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act have failed to do so. It’s our firm belief that a step-change in attitudes can be achieved if consumers start to question how and where their goods are made, and begin to scrutinise the modern slavery statements of the organisations making them. More on this throughout 2018.
A fitting legacy
So, taking us back to the beginning of our journey and David Noble, who kick-started all of this action. We have thought long and hard this year about leaving a legacy in David’s name, something that would sum up what he was most passionate about.
We attended the Co-op’s Bright Futures event earlier this month in Manchester. Featured in the June 2017 issue, the Bright Futures Project aims to go much further than the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act, and the Co-op have put a process in place and partnered with NGOs to help place victims of slavery into jobs and support their integration back into society.
Realising that not everyone wants to work in a shop or a warehouse, the Co-op want to extend this blueprint to other organisations, and my call to action to you is to look at whether you could give survivors of slavery a leg up and help to get their life back on track – and into paid employment.
Paul Gerrard, group policy and campaigns director at the Co-operative Group ended the event asking everyone in the room to make a pledge. He threw down the gauntlet, saying: “Businesses have a moral obligation to do something. What commitment could you pledge to make a difference?”
I knew then what David Noble would have wanted and, from 2018, CIPS will work with the Co-op and its partners to provide education support to survivors of modern slavery in David’s name through the CIPS Foundation.
Please visit CIPS Foundation if you would like to make a donation.