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Modern slavery action hits a chain wall

Environmental management, Modern Slavery, Sustainable Procurement

Published 05th May 23 - by hillarysmith

Sarah and Michael nestled into their breakfast nook on a crisp spring morning in a quaint English town. They sipped tea. Nibbled on freshly toasted muffins. And admired how the morning sun pierced through the tentacled branches of the old oak tree in the garden. Sarah watched the four gardeners packing away their equipment and marvelled at the productivity of morning people. Michael remarked how physically demanding the job must be and how he’s often seen bruises and scars from their labours. Sarah admired their lean figures and wished she could combine her desk job and gym time. Finally, Michael strolled into the yard and tried to pay one of them cash. Tom was the only who spoke English, he stepping in, thanked Michael for the payment and apologised that Edward didn’t speak English. Michael confirmed their next booking, while Sarah locked the door and they both left to start their daily commute.

Edward needed money to pay for his daughter’s schooling. So, he accepted an offer to work in maintenance and gardening in the UK. He worked hard for long hours and finished jobs well. But Edward was never paid. He was imprisoned. He was beaten. He only ate bread and butter. He had his passport confiscated. His money was stolen, and he was sold for a mere three hundred pounds. Edward eventually escaped. A charity group gave him clothes, food, a bed and helped him get a new passport. But most importantly, he now has hope, dignity and freedom.

Edward is a real person. You can read his story here.

The overwhelming recent feedback on corporate action on modern slavery is that business has hit a wall. Like many complex problems eradicating modern slavery will not be fast or easy. Fatigue can be the biggest enemy of justice. But the outcome is too important to give up. The 50 million Edwards of the world need us.

Here are some suggested next steps for different stages:

‘We’ve got so much data from surveys and no time or skill to analyse it.’

Watch this space for an online workshop to help turn your data into insights. We welcome all suggestions for upcoming events. This one came from an attendee of our recent workshop series on remediation of modern slavery.

‘We have updated our contracts, trained our staff and promoted our grievance mechanism.’
Great! Start working on your remediation plan for when you find your first case and also start to train your supply chain.

‘We found a case of modern slavery and my company cut the supplier loose. I don’t think the rights holder received any remedy. We just protected our company’s risk. It makes me feel sick.’

Use this incident to start a difficult conversation on improving your remediation plan. Companies that are School Fellows can use their complimentary School workshops to work trough this issue.

‘I did the e-learning modules on modern slavery last year. What should I do now?’

That’s why we scale our learning resources on all our topic areas from ‘beginner’ to ‘leader’. Scroll down to what level you’re on now, and then keep scrolling to the next level and see what’s there for you to progress.

‘I never find the time to read stuff.’

We cater for a variety of learning types. If you can’t read easily or don’t like to learn by reading, then try watching videos, or listening to podcasts or recordings. If you like to learn by doing try out our series of e-learning modules and puzzles.

We have a selection of free Modern Slavery resources for readers, watchers, listeners and doers.