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In honor of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month on February 1, Dun & Bradstreet is encouraging companies to find the answer—and get a customized sample human trafficking risk assessment—for free. You’ll be doing your part to put an end to an arcane practice that has persisted into the 21st century.
How Serious Is Slavery Today?
Human trafficking, or Modern Slavery as it is called now, is one of the world’s fastest-growing and most profitable criminal endeavors. Underground trafficking organizations are extremely difficult to uncover and expose. They play a significant yet hidden role in companies with a global footprint, earning estimated profits of $150 billion annually.
Don’t be fooled: Human trafficking is everywhere, even in our own backyards, and exists on a state, national, and international level. Since 2007, more than 25,000 trafficking cases have been reported through the National Human Trafficking Resource Center and the Polaris Project, a nonprofit that combats human trafficking. It has been reported in all 50 U.S. states—and in 2016 alone, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations arrested nearly 2,000 traffickers and identified more than 400 victims. Global research has counted more than 21 million victims—who are mostly women, children, minorities, migrants, and the disabled—but probably less than 1% are actually identified, according to Polaris.
Many companies unknowingly get involved with high-risk suppliers when outsourcing overseas for raw materials like cotton and cocoa. Think Nestlé, which publicly acknowledged slavery in its seafood supply chain in Thailand after negative press. And chocolate companies like Hershey and Mars, which faced lawsuits in 2015 for child slavery by cocoa farmers in West Africa. Or PureCircle (maker of the artificial sugar Stevia), whose sales plummeted when it was accused of forced labor and worked to prove its innocence this year. Forever 21, AllSaints, and URBN (parent of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Free People, BHLDN) also faced allegations, as they ranked at the bottom of the Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Sourcing Snapshot: 2015 Addendum.
The list continues. Global companies are more susceptible to human trafficking than they think. Tracing a complex, end-to-end supply chain is challenging enough (imagine tracking tens of thousands of suppliers at once), let alone uncovering or tracking illegal activity within them. It’s a daunting task, but one that companies will be responsible for by law.
Many of these companies are now publicly sharing their efforts to eradicate slavery from their supply chains. This can include investments in supply-chain visibility, enforced supplier regulations (i.e. requiring IDs at all facilities and farms), employee training, and in-the-field efforts with suppliers. But this movement only picked up in the last few years.
Tracking a Growing Global Movement: How It Affects All of Us
Last year, the world reached a critical milestone in the global fight to end human trafficking: Companies that conduct business in the U.S. and U.K. are now legally required to report information on their supply chains.
The growing momentum is building an environment where consumers will soon demand supply-chain transparency—and the elimination of modern slavery will be mandatory.
Other notable events in 2016 contributing to the movement:
- The number of countries enforcing trafficking regulations went up from 18% in 2003 to 88% in 2016, according to the 2016 UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons. Many countries passed legislations recently.
- World leaders mentioned human trafficking in three out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. And the United Nations Security Council unanimously condemned human trafficking in the strongest terms.
- The U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking launched, and it released the first U.S. government report on human trafficking written by survivors.
Enforcement and regulations are expected to tighten even further across the board in 2017.
Know Your Chain: The Responsibility of All Organizations Today
In response to the regulations and increasing social pressures, many businesses are building programs to better track their supply chains and raise awareness.
Coca Cola, for instance, has an internal group called the Global Workplace Rights (GWR) team that enforces international human rights principles across its employee base. Leaders speak publicly about how they are addressing human trafficking and actively promoting education and awareness on the issue.
Even watchdog organizations like Responsible Sourcing Tool, Development International, Made in a Free World, and Project Just are popping up to reveal to consumers those companies who are adhering to ethical, sustainable standards—and those who are not.
It’s more important than ever to be aware of every member in your supply-chain family and their activities. It’s the age of transparency, the time when it’s possible for your customer (or competitor) to learn something about your company before you do—and go public with it in a matter of seconds.
But beyond reputation protection, and even ensuring fair competition in each industry, organizations carry the power to contribute immensely in the fight against modern slavery, saving millions of people.
We believe Dun & Bradstreet, as the owner of the largest commercial database in the world, has a social responsibility to get involved and help our customers learn more about their relationships, which put them, their industry, and the people of the world at risk of falling victim to human trafficking.
1. Request your sample Human Trafficking Risk Index score.
In this sample report, you will receive:
- A Human Trafficking Risk Score for your entire company:
Your company will be given a risk rating between 1-7 (from low to high risk). This score will be based on a combination of factors from your supply base, the locations in which your company operates, your D-U-N-S number, and analytics from public and proprietary Dun & Bradstreet data.
- A snapshot of the risk levels of your supplier family:
Each of your suppliers—including Tiers 1, 2, and 3—influence your product and ultimately represent your brand. We understand it can feel impossible to understand and keep track of every supply layer without the right tools. In this sample report, we gather a list of your 20 lowest- and highest-risk suppliers to get you started.
2. Join the conversation on Twitter @DnBus.