More than three years after the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act (SB 657) went into effect, the Attorney General of California this week released guidance for companies that need to comply with SB 657. We commend the Attorney General for clarifying the various legal elements of the law, but would have liked to seen more steps taken to fulfill its intention.
The newly released guidance includes examples of “model disclosure” steps that companies could consider taking. However, additional practices that are widely recognized, even by companies, to effectively address trafficking could have been highlighted. Last week, for example, the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition adapted their base code to prohibit certain exploitative tactics, such as charging workers recruitment fees. Such practices have been directly linked to debt bondage and other forms of exploitation among recruited labor. Yet, concerns about exploitative recruitment practices are not unique to the electronics industry. With contracted labor on the rise, every industry is arguably connected to unethical labor recruitment.
Rather than simply publishing a statement, we expect companies to respond to SB 657 by meaningfully improving their management practices and assessing their risks.
For affected companies, the guidance does highlight how disclosure statements should be formatted and what accessibility means for its interested parties. It is our hope that with greater clarity around the requirements of the law, we will see an increase in the amount of compliance statements that are publicly accessible.
KnowTheChain has only been able to successfully identify 20% of the companies that are affected by SB 657. Unfortunately, until the Attorney General makes the list of companies subject to SB 657 public, the full intention of the law, which is to inform consumers on what steps companies are taking to address slavery and human trafficking, cannot occur.