The methodology of the KnowTheChain benchmarks is based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and assesses companies’ efforts to address forced labor risks in their supply chains against seven themes.
Commitment & Governance is the highest-scoring theme of the benchmark. All companies except two disclose a commitment to addressing forced labor, and the majority disclose a supplier code of conduct that prohibits forced labor (45 out of 49).
Yet when it comes to implementation, companies lag behind:
Recruitment: It is encouraging that more than 70% of the companies (36 out of 49) disclose a policy prohibiting worker-paid recruitment fees in their supply chains. However, only 27% (13 out of 49) disclose evidence of reimbursing fees to their supply chain workers.
Worker Voice: This is the lowest scoring theme. While 35 of the 49 companies disclose a grievance mechanism for their suppliers’ workers, only seven disclose detail on how it is communicated to workers, and only five disclose data showing it is used. Further, all companies score zero on their efforts to support freedom of association and collective bargaining in their supply chains.
Remedy also remains a rare sight for supply chain workers:
Less than a quarter of the companies disclose their process for responding to the violations of forced labor in their supply chains reported by workers directly or third parties such as worker organizations or media. Of the 14 companies with allegations of forced labor in their supply chains, only three companies disclose some information on the outcomes of the remedy in the case of the allegations.
Did the Sector Improve Since 2018?
Looking at the 40 companies benchmarked in 2018 only, some improvements could be seen across all seven benchmarks themes. However, improvements remain limited, in particular in areas such as purchasing practices and worker voice.
Progress on recruitment was stronger, but remains limited when it indicators looking at implementation: