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Property Council Modern Slavery Supplier Platform

Published 10th Oct 19 - by Hayley Jarick

A group of 15 leading property organisations, brought together through the Property Council’s National Sustainability Roundtable, is collaborating to create and promote the Modern Slavery Supplier Platform.

These organisations include Abacus Property, AMP Capital, Brookfield Properties, Charter Hall, Cromwell Property Group, Dexus, Frasers Property Australia, Goodman Group, GPT, Investa, ISPT, Landcom, Mirvac, Stockland and Vicinity Centres. The group is supported by industry experts Edge Environment, the Supply Chain Sustainability School, and Better Sydney, with Informed365 providing all technical expertise around the platform itself.

There’s a long way to go before Australia’s property industry is properly assessing and addressing the risks of modern slavery in its operations and supply chains, but this platform is a great way to spark collaboration, work with suppliers and improve levels of knowledge. So that organisations can assess and address the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains, it is important to provide education and training to employees and staff as well as to external stakeholders such as clients and suppliers around issues of human rights and modern slavery as well as the risks that may occur. That’s why the Supply Chain Sustainability School has been involved with the development of the platform, providing links to a range of free and simple resources for clients, staff and suppliers to learn more about the issues involved.

Suppliers are invited to register and enter information about actions they are taking to assess and address modern slavery; this data can then be accessed by Property Council members through the platform’s dashboard to enable better evaluation, decision-making and reporting.

Taking action to address modern slavery in your organisation’s operations and supply chains is good business sense. It can protect against possible harm to your business, improve the integrity and quality of supply chains, increase profitability, improve investor and consumer confidence and financing opportunities, improve relationships with employees, suppliers and local communities, and lead to greater access to business opportunities.

Since property organisations have complex operations and supply chains involving hundreds, perhaps thousands of other entities, it can be difficult to assess and respond immediately to the modern slavery risks associated with every part of your operations and supply chains. It is suggested that businesses focus on those areas of operations and supply chains where modern slavery risks are likely to be most significant. The UN Guiding Principles explain that organisations should focus on the most ‘severe’ risks first – those that could cause the greatest harm to people – as these are more important than the probability of the risk occurring. By using this platform and answering the questions, suppliers can make sure that a broad range of clients see their responses, they only report on the data once a year rather than multiple times in varying formats for different customers, they gain access to a range of educational resources, and they can measure progress in their actions and responses year on year. Rolling out a uniform platform across the industry also increases reporting efficiency and encourages greater transparency in supply chain management.

Organisations that have greater visibility of their operations and supply chains are more likely to operate efficiently, have better working relationships, and be able to assess and address risks including modern slavery. Organisations should use their leverage to work with suppliers that have caused negative impacts to people in the past, to prevent or mitigate the harm and its recurrence. If this is unsuccessful, organisations should consider ending their business relationship with those suppliers. Remediation can take many forms, including steps to ensure the harm cannot recur, apologies, compensation, or stopping activities.

Addressing modern slavery risks can be a complex and challenging process and suppliers’ responses and collaboration with other organisations will evolve over time. As suppliers go through this assessment, it is important that they focus on how they can continue to improve their supply chains and refine their responses in future years. For example, the information they provide this year may help them to identify new areas of modern slavery risk that they will need to address over the next 12 months, which in turn will help you with your reporting.

See the Financial Review article here: https://www.afr.com/property/commercial/property-industry-rolls-out-anti-slavery-questionnaire-to-suppliers-20191003-p52xck