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Ensuring an ethical supply chain

The most recent series of Shetland and the current series of Line of Duty both tackle the issue of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, with women being treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’. While Line of Duty’s salacious dehumanising of women as ‘livestock’ makes for shocking viewing, if you eat food, wear clothes and own a smart phone, then you are unwittingly allowing between 40 and 60 people to furnish your lifestyle. This was the sobering thought given to delegates at ICSA’s Charity Governance Conference in London this March by Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO of Unseen, as he explained the multi-billion dollar per annum profit that modern slavery generates.

In 2016, at any given time, an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide were in modern slavery, including 24.9 in forced labour. Warning that modern slavery is now so intertwined that every organisation should be asking what they will do when they find it rather than if they find it, Andrew counselled that transparency is critical as illicit traders are the main obstacle that organisations are up against in terms of supply chain governance.

While the 2015 Modern Slavery Act was instrumental in highlighting the issue of forced labour around the world and the role that companies need to play in ensuring goods and services are free of exploitation, the complexities of modern supply chains mean that this task is far from straightforward. It can be difficult to manage extended relationships, but the public, governments and regulators expect companies to do all that they can to ensure that they are not part of the modern slavery problem, so boards need to give supply chain governance the attention it deserves.

Blockchain is now being used to help ensure ethical supply chains, as it has shown its usefulness in real world business applications, helping to foster transparency, identity management and trust. AgriLedger Founder Genevieve Leveille, considered to be one of UK’s top thought leaders on this matter, joins us on Day 2 of this year’s conference.

Join Genevieve and her fellow panellists at 11.30 on Wednesday 10 July to discuss how your organisation can ensure it has a robust, stable and ethical supply chain.

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