The global problem of modern slavery

In this article Kimberly Randle, Fair Supply’s Executive Director and Lawyer, discusses the global problem of modern slavery.

The latest data unequivocally demonstrates that addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues including modern slavery, is a proven business strategy that results in increased profitability, return on investment and overall brand enhancement. Larry Fink, CEO of Black Rock Investments, stated in his 2019 letter to CEOs that the “purpose is not the sole pursuit of profits but the animating force for achieving them. Profits are in no way inconsistent with purpose – in fact profits and purpose are intrinsically linked.” This comment has resonated deeply with me this year as I have sought to pioneer Fair Supply, a law firm exclusively dedicated to partnering with organisations to fulfil their transparency and reporting obligations under the Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act. I launched Fair Supply as a forward-thinking response to assist the private sector to not only achieve compliance but also move the needle on modern slavery, an issue that still affects over 40 million people globally.

17 out of the 40 million victims of modern slavery around the world are exploited in private economy, distorting global markets and undermining responsible business. The Modern Slavery Act 2019 (Commonwealth) is the first piece of domestic legislation that provides a definition of modern slavery including trafficking in persons, slavery, servitude, forced marriage, debt bondage, child labour, deceptive recruiting and forced labour. The implications of this new legislative framework for addressing modern slavery in Australia are significant. The reporting obligation under the Modern Slavery Act refers to the requirement of reporting entities to publish an annual Modern Slavery Statement addressing seven mandatory reporting requirements relating to a description of modern slavery risks in the reporting entities operations and supply chains. The description of those risks includes a description of all factors that have the potential for reporting entities to, in a material way, cause, contribute to or be directly linked to modern slavery. While the Modern Slavery Act sets out clear obligations it also provides profound opportunities.

Prior to launching Fair Supply, I was the Senior Director of Corporate and Legal for International Justice Mission Australia, a partner office of the world’s largest anti-slavery NGO.  During that time, I was in a unique position to witness the real-world impact of the efforts of my international colleagues in rescuing victims of modern slavery from brick kilns in India and from cybersex-trafficking dens in the Philippines. In the midst of such experiences I became aware of the scale of human rights abuses hidden within the complexities of international supply chains. Put simply, modern slavery functions within the ubiquitous economic model of supply and demand which also provides a unique opportunity for Australian businesses to lead the global market in incorporating transparency, humanity and acuity into best practice.

 

GRC Solutions is an award-winning provider of compliance training. To find out more about our Modern Slavery course, contact us today.


An article written by
Kimberly Randle
Executive Director and Lawyer
Fair Supply