Benchmark Methodology

Benchmark Methodology

In 2019, KnowTheChain is revising its benchmark methodology through consultation with topic experts, worker organizations, industry associations, benchmarked companies, and investors. Members of the public who are interested in providing suggestions on how to improve the methodology are invited to contact between April and June 2019.

In 2020, our benchmarks will cover over 180 companies. This expanded list of companies will be  benchmarked using an updated methodology for each sector. (The revised methodology for 2020 will be posted in late 2019). Links to previous methodologies are shown below:

2018 Benchmark Methodology

Should you be interested in translations of the KnowTheChain methodology in any additional language, please contact

2016 Benchmark Methodology

Each methodology takes into consideration sector-specific nuances that relate to forced labor and assesses how companies address forced labor risks in their supply chains.



Why was the methodology updated?

KnowTheChain updated its methodology in order to apply lessons learned from its 2016 benchmarks and from stakeholder feedback, including input from investors, civil society partners, industry and multi-stakeholder initiatives, and the companies benchmarked in 2016. The updates are intended to ensure alignment with evolving frameworks, benchmarks, and guidance in each of the sectors. This review process was in part intended to strengthen the benchmarking and focus on performance, in addition to policies and processes.

What changed?

    • There is a greater focus on corporate action below the first tier, as worker abuse occurs at all tiers and workers may be more vulnerable deeper down supply chains.
    • There is a greater emphasis on actual implementation and a shift away from awareness and policies.
    • There is more flexibility in assessing how and who implements a particular practice, so that the focus is on ensuring that a credible system exists, rather than being overly prescriptive as to who implements it. For example, at times it may make sense for an individual brand to implement a practice while at other times it may be sufficient for a supplier or initiative to do so.
    • Third-party data, including allegations from reputable news agencies and relevant industry information, is incorporated.
    • Supplementary information, such as compliance with relevant regulations and forward-looking commitments, has been added to provide a more holistic picture of companies’ efforts. This additional information is not used in the scoring.

In 2018, KnowTheChain incorporated retailers into its analysis. Retailers have responsibility for their products across their supply chains and have been evaluated using information that is supply chain-specific and that applies to the company regardless of the sector.