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The issue of Human Trafficking and modern-day slavery is top-of-mind for companies based in the United Kingdom or doing business there.  This concept was clearly evident to Source Intelligence during a recent symposium it sponsored in London and during private meetings held with representatives of some of the country’s top businesses.

Two forces appear to be causing significant concern for companies:

  • The 2015 U.K. Modern Slavery Act, which requires commercial enterprises to file an annual statement disclosing their efforts to mitigate slavery from their supply chain.
  • The recent criminal conviction of the owner of a local UK retail supplier for conspiracy to traffic in slave labor.

Among the many business leaders and compliance managers attending the “2nd annual Responsible 3TG Sourcing and Anti-Slavery Compliance” symposium, most indicated the recent human trafficking conviction and heightened oversight by regulations are good indications that companies need to start implementing scalable compliance programs.

U.K. investigators appear to be examining all areas of modern-day slavery – from working conditions within the country to a company’s international supply chain. Investigators have good reason to suspect this: Recent studies suggest that more than two-thirds of all businesses believe it is very likely modern slavery has or currently exists within their supply chain.  Now that companies have filed their first few rounds of statements required under the Act, investigators are expected to be conducting exhaustive checks in the coming weeks and months.

Most experts, including those who spoke at last month’s symposium, agree a good approach to determining whether slavery (or forced labor), child labor and human trafficking issues are present in a company’s supply chain is to start by assessing their “already in motion” conflict minerals tracing programs.  Scalable procedures that are set up to gather and analyze supplier data about the possible presence of conflict minerals in a product can significantly reduce the probability of slavery, child labor or human trafficking issues. The validation and assessment processes of conflict minerals compliance enable companies to reduce risk and enhance supply chain transparency significantly.  Although not a guarantee, companies able to demonstrate a competent conflict minerals compliance program will likely avoid more in-depth or follow-up problems with other issues such as modern day slavery. 

To learn more about establishing Human Trafficking or Conflict Minerals compliance process, visit Source Intelligence’s solution center. Also, keep visiting the website for the latest webinars on the U.K. Modern Slavery Act, the European Union’s pending conflict minerals rules, and other emerging compliance matters.