By: Cindy Berman, Head of Modern Slavery Strategy at The Ethical Trading Initiative
July 30: World Day Against Human Trafficking
Over 40 million people are estimated to be in modern slavery. That’s five victims of modern slavery for every 1,000 people in the world. The figures on children are even more shocking: 152 million children, aged between 5 and 17 are subject to child labour.
Out of the 24.9 million people trapped in forced labour, 16 million people are exploited in the private sector – businesses that we encounter every day selling goods and services.
A further four million people are subject to state-imposed forced labour. That means citizens who are forced by their governments to work and have no choice about this. During harvest season, for example, teachers and children can be pulled out of classrooms, students and prisoners are forced to work in factories…
How and why does this happen?
Today’s global economy is complex and increasingly competitive. There is also a race to the bottom on prices.
Companies, countries and cities compete with one another for cheaper, faster goods and services, and the online economy increases these pressures – offering more choice and quicker access. So who pays the price of cheap, fast products?
Behind the numbers are millions of individual vulnerable workers who are subject to exploitation and abuse. They are often migrant, domestic, seasonal or temporary workers.
Many are women or children subject to threat, physical and sexual abuse. They lack opportunities for decent work, and end up tricked or coerced into jobs where their employers don’t pay them enough, force them to work long hours, sometimes in hazardous conditions, and without protection from the authorities.
Many governments don’t want to regulate the private sector – they don’t want to hamper growth and they fail to implement basic labour laws that are in place.
At best, many companies fudge their responsibilities as businesses for causing or contributing to human rights abuses. Some turn a blind eye to what might be hidden down their supply chain and claim ignorance. Others intentionally take advantage of the hidden nature of modern slavery to exploit and abuse workers that are vulnerable.
Leading Companies Commit to Ethical Supply Chains
But other companies – such as members of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) – are committed to being responsible and ethical businesses. They recognise the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains, and are looking for help and collaborative solutions to tackle these problems. They know they cannot do this alone.
ETI is a leading alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. ETI’s vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity.
As such, ETI was instrumental in calling on the UK government to include a Transparency in Supply Chains Clause 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. It is the first legislation of its kind globally.
The legislation requires companies with an annual turnover (revenue) of £36m to make a public statement setting out all the steps they are taking to ensure that modern slavery is not taking place in their supply chains. The legislation is not perfect, and there is not yet full compliance with its requirements, but it has been a game-changer in making many companies take this issue seriously.
What’s more, the legislation is making waves internationally as countries such as Australia and Canada follow the UK’s lead. The French Duty of Vigilance Law goes further in requiring large companies to conduct due diligence on their operations and supply chains, and can be prosecuted if they fail to do this.
Cross-Sector Collaboration Helps Reduce Trafficking
ETI recognizes that companies committed to trading ethically can find it difficult to negotiate the complexity of the issues involved. Workers’ rights issues are often deep-rooted and widespread and are best tackled through collaborative action.
That’s why ETI harnesses the expertise, skills and resources of our alliance members to identify these issues and develop innovative, long-lasting solutions. Its measure of success is that workers can negotiate effectively for a better working life where their rights are respected.
Using Technology for ETI’s Nonprofit Program Management
Since 2014, ETI has been using Salesforce to help its teams worldwide to capture and track relationships with key stakeholders, member organisations and other partners.
In 2018, ETI began a project to introduce the use of Salesforce Knowledge (part of Salesforce.org Nonprofit Cloud) to help capture evidence of the impact of the organisation’s work. Salesforce Knowledge will form the basis of a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) system that will improve the efficiency of reporting processes and ensure the organisation is more consistent and “joined-up” across its teams.
Tracking progress against ETI’s strategic plan and capturing learning to inform future plans is crucial for ETI to be able to report on its impact to donors and supporters. The development of a MEL system based on Salesforce Knowledge will enable ETI to replace a range of standalone tools and platforms. This will help ETI to collect, analyse and report on both qualitative and quantitative information using the Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud easy-to-use reporting and dashboarding tools.
To join the fight against modern slavery, consider joining ETI as a member.
What Organizations Can Do to Fight Human Trafficking: Principles and Collaboration
Ethical sourcing is a journey, and your organization doesn’t need to be perfect when you join. But, effectively fighting human trafficking involves a commitment to direct involvement and improvement over time. As a first step, ETI suggests that companies that seek to improve the ethics of their supply chains should adopt the ETI Base Code, which is a model code of labour practice. It helps to sign on to a set of principles that will drive changes in business practices.
Cross-sector collaboration also helps. What member companies of ethical sourcing coalitions like ETI gain is the opportunity to work together to solve problems in their particular supply chains where they know exploitation and abuse is taking place but which each company cannot fix alone. ETI offers members access to peer learning opportunities, cutting-edge training, guidance, expertise and advice. Most importantly, they will get to sit around the table with trade unions and NGOs that stimulate meaningful dialogue and better outcomes for workers. Through constructive engagement with stakeholders, companies can advance their ethical sourcing practices.
Learn more about other nonprofits using Salesforce to advance their missions.
About the Author
Cindy Berman is a gender, modern slavery and human rights specialist. She is the Ethical Trading Initiative’s Head of Modern Slavery Strategy, having joined ETI in 2014 as Head of Knowledge and Learning. Prior to that, Cindy was Senior Social Development Advisor in the UK Department for International Development, where she led the development DFID’s flagship modern slavery programme, Work in Freedom to prevent trafficking, forced and child labour of women and girls in South Asia and the Middle East. Also at DFID, Cindy was a Regional Senior Advisor covering Asia and East Africa, led DFID’s Social Exclusion Policy, work on migration and drivers of radicalisation.
She is from South Africa, and has lived and worked in Southern Africa region for years. Cindy worked for the ILO for 3.5 years at the ILO UN Liaison Office in New York, with UN Women and worked at the Commonwealth Secretariat on gender, human rights and HIV/AIDS. She has worked for several large and small civil society organisations on rural and urban poverty, social exclusion, social protection, health, education, disability, HIV/AIDS, gender and human rights. At ETI, Cindy co-authored two research studies with Hult/Ashridge Business School; led the development of ETI’s Human Rights Due Diligence Framework and ETI’s Base Code Guidance Reports on Modern Slavery and Child Labour.