Commitment and governance is the highest scoring theme of the benchmark. Most companies have stated their commitment to address forced labor in their supply chains and have a supplier code of conduct in place that requires suppliers to adhere to international standards prohibiting forced labor. However, company engagement with stakeholders such as policy makers, worker rights organizations, or local NGOs on the issue of forced labor is low, especially in local supply chain contexts.
Thirty out of 38 companies have stated their commitment to addressing forced labor in their supply chains, and an additional four highlight their awareness of the issue. The majority of companies (34 out of 38) have a supplier code of conduct in place that prohibits forced labor. However, only 28 of these supply chain standards incorporate standards on the fundamental rights and freedoms articulated in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Rights and Principles at Work. Almarai, FEMSA, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Monster Beverage, and WH Group, the five lowest scoring companies in the benchmark, do not disclose a supply chain standard.
Twenty-six out of 38 companies disclose a team, program, or officer with responsibility for human rights in their supply chains, while 16 of those companies specified that the responsibility included their supply chain standard covering forced labor. Fewer companies report on board-level oversight, with ten companies disclosing detail on board oversight of their supply chain standards on forced labor.
Twenty-nine out of 38 companies disclose that they deliver training on forced labor risks and policies to their employees. However, only 18 of these companies make clear that key employees such as procurement staff are included in such training. Associated British Foods has delivered training on modern slavery to all procurement and corporate responsibility employees. Further, it provides training to the human resources, audit, and sustainability teams of its sugar division.
However, fewer companies disclose training their suppliers on forced labor risks or policies. Thirteen out of 38 companies report that they deliver training on forced labor to their suppliers, and only eight of them disclose details of delivering that training across sourcing countries or supply chain tiers. For instance, Walmart has provided training to suppliers of Thai shrimp on improving labor conditions; Lindt discloses that it delivers training on its supplier code, which includes forced labor, to farmers of cocoa beans; and Unilever has delivered training to more than 1,000 suppliers in Turkey, Dubai, India, Bangkok, and Malaysia on eradicating forced labor and responsible management of migrant labor.
Companies most often report engaging with stakeholders on forced labor in relation to seafood, such as through membership on the Seafood Task Force, an initiative that was formed to tackle forced labor and human trafficking in Thailand’s seafood supply chain. Other commodity-focused stakeholder engagements included efforts focused on palm oil, sugar, tea, beef, and tomatoes.
Only nine out of 38 companies provide examples of engaging with policy makers, workers’ rights organizations, local non-governmental organizations or other relevant stakeholders on forced labor in countries in which their suppliers operate. For example, Woolworths discloses that it appeared before the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian government to support the introduction of a Modern Slavery Act in Australia. Kellogg discloses that it co-sponsored supplier capability building focused on human rights and forced labor, which also included several participants from the Mexican government. Four companies were able to provide more than one example, covering different supply chain contexts.
Companies more commonly report engaging in multi-stakeholder initiatives which focus on forced labor, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative or the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment. Twenty-three out of 38 companies disclose participation in such an initiative, which commonly includes the Consumer Goods Forum, with reference to supporting or implementing the initiative’s Priority Industry Principles on forced labor. Seventeen of these companies described their active participation in these initiatives. For instance, Smucker discloses that it is actively involved in the Consumer Goods Forum through membership on its Board, Social Sustainability Steering Committee, and working groups on implementing the Forum’s Priority Industry Principles throughout the seafood and palm oil sector.