Posted: 01 Nov 2022 by Poppy Gardner

A Thought Piece on Modern Slavery

Our Global FMCG Retail partner  Lisa Domoney  from AVD Consulting has written a thought provoking blog about a subject that is close to her heart – Modern Slavery. 

Lisa evaluates the state of Modern Slavery progress and the reality of the Zimbabwe bonded labour schemes.

All Hands on Deck

Our Global FMCG Retail partner  Lisa Domoney  from AVD Consulting has written a thought provoking blog about a subject that is close to her heart – Modern Slavery. 

Lisa evaluates the state of Modern Slavery progress and the reality of the Zimbabwe bonded labour schemes.

Are you fulfilling your moral and ethical obligations to tackle Modern Slavery in your supply chains or are you completing a ‘tick box’ exercise?

All Hands on Deck

I grew up in Zimbabwe. I initially trained as a nursery nurse. I could well have trained alongside any one of these victims coming into the UK on the promise of an amazing work opportunity. Suddenly it all seems very personal. Almost like having a family member trapped in an abusive marriage. These are my people, my friends/colleagues and community. Of course you would do everything in your power to help that family member. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine the reality of human rights abuses when it is in factories way off in the far east. We work in this sector because we are passionate about human rights – but sometimes you can’t actually feel it until an article brings it right to your doorstep.

Zimbabweans don’t really want to leave their beautiful home country, they are being forced to leave because of an impossible economic situation – just as I was 22 years ago, unable to support myself and wanting a better life for my son. Except, it was different for me – I was born in the UK and had a British passport, so the transition was easier. I most certainly do not paint myself as a victim, but I can identify with their plight. This is happening all over the world and the UK then becomes the host for the criminal activity that exploits the vulnerable.

All Hands on Deck

Criminals are capitalising on the outputs of economic crisis – desperation. Modern slavery has increased by 10m in 5 years according to the latest figures in the BBC article. Why?  – oh yes, let’s blame Brexit, pandemic, extreme global poverty, climate change. All very valid reasons as to why MS would increase – but why have we let them be the reasons it HAS increased. Nothing justifies it. 

Guy Ryder quoted in this same article it should be ‘an all hands on deck’ approach. I couldn’t agree more. But first let’s take the pens out of those hands and stop with the promises and statements of good intent. When I read the modern slavery statements online by some companies I heave a big sigh. How are they different from 5 years ago?. Where is the impact analysis?  Still committing to objectives such as ‘training x number of suppliers/colleagues on MS.  Audit numbers moved from x% of red to green.

We all know the famous Einstein quote on the definition of insanity ‘ doing the same thing and expecting a different result’  It’s not working! Let me say that again in shouty capitals – IT’S NOT WORKING! 

 

Can companies please stop spending thousands of pounds on beautiful marketing – aka ‘Greenwashing’. What do we actually call the modern slavery equivalent of greenwashing?  Genuinely misleading the public into thinking company efforts are having an impact. Well, (to quote my lovely accountant) let’s review the numbers! Increased by 10m in 5 years. Oh yes – it’s all going swimmingly – not!

Real change is going to require some disruptive action. More collaboration, more partnerships, (cue  shivering legal teams shouting ‘competition law’) less audit focused programmes.  And of course more spend – perhaps reduce the digital design budget (shock, horror) and invest in bigger efforts on the ground actually implementing some more impactful solutions. Has the clamour to get Carbon Scopes sorted been at the expense of Human Rights? 

Without meaning to be preachy, I refer to my recent LinkedIn post on hindsight. Walking away from corporate has allowed me to see the wood for the trees and not be bound by the corporate confines of budget, resource and strategic priorities. I am committed to working differently, disrupting the ‘way it’s always been done’ and creating real proven, positive impact on an issue which is now even closer to my heart.

All Hands on Deck

Unmask your supply chains

The STAR Index method is delivered without replacing current systems and processes. Capitalising on and strengthening existing information that ensures actionable insights are delivered at speed. STAR Index generates regular progress scorecards to keep your business and supply chain on the right track, whilst transforming your supply chains to make them more transparent. Our platform will allow you to identify any Modern Slavery risks in your supply chains alongside any other ESG/sustainability risks. 

In addition to this, STAR Index has partnered with AVD Consulting to deliver first hand assistance and consultation. Lisa will support your supply chain journey and enable you to manage your supply chain risk with clarity and confidence.

Talk to us today!

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