New BBC report on Forced Labour in China supply chains increasing
I lived and worked in China many years, speak Chinese, and interviewed Uyghur workers in forced labour in investigative supplier social audits with leading global brands so I, (Kate Larsen, Founder SupplyESChange) was featured on BBC World TV and BBC radio last week for a new BBC report on increasing forced labour in China supply chains, especially for cotton.
I share the clip to you below here.
Whilst I spoke to a wider audience including all citizens, I discussed a few Aspects Important for Business, and for Investors to expect as ESG action by business.
You can read How these Steps are relevant to All Business below the BBC World news clip HERE:
What (any) Business Can Do (further elaboration beyond Fashion):
POLICY: A clear Human Rights Policy is expected for companies to rank well in the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark rating for ESG Investors (merging in 2021 into the World Benchmarking Alliance Social index assessing 1000s more companies than the first few 100), as well as a Supplier Ethical Trade or Social Compliance policy which clarifies Labour Standards expectations. Many companies draw from the SA8000 code and/or UK Ethical Trading Initiative code which put the ILO Conventions and international human rights conventions into laymens language for operational application.
RISK ASSESS: Companies are required under the UK and Australia Modern Slavery Acts, and USA law to be regularly scanning for risk of modern slavery including forced labour in their supply chains. Senior Exec teams and Boards should be gaining regular updates, which in many companies internal Ethical Trade, CSR, or Responsible Sourcing professionals can provide tailored to the company footprint (from insights from work together with Sourcing / Supply Chain / Procurement).
INVESTIGATE: Where risk is highlighted, e.g. some China suppliers may (by the type of deep desk-based investigation we conduct) identified to have hired groups of Uyghur workers (alongside their Han Chinese workers) through the government programmes largely believed to be forced labour. Unannounced onsite investigation (of the type we have managed many times) can verify conditions (and when done well check there is no undeclared outsourcing).
COLLABORATE: Under the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights which the OECD guidelines, emerging European business human rights due diligence, and under USA law, companies are encouraged to collaborate with peer buyers in industry initiatives as well as stakeholders of rights affected persons, ie worker representative NGOs, and other entities. Many large multinational companies even collaborate with trade unions on supply chain labour standards as shown by the joining by 200 of the worlds largest apparel companies from the USA, Europe, Japan and more of the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety with trade unions. For the current China Uyghur forced labour risk issue, I discuss in the video that currently apparel companies are encouraged the join the Call to Action of the EndUyghurForcedLabour.org campaign, which some of their industry initiatives support, and leading charities such as Anti-Slavery, Unseen, Walkfree, and more support.
REPORT: Companies are expected under the UK and Australia Modern Slavery Acts and similar California Transparency in Supply Chains Act to report on modern slavery risks and their action taken to mitigate and/or remediate these. Pending German, Swiss and EU business human rights due diligence law expects similar, as French law already does.