KnowTheChain released its third and final benchmark report of 2016 today, which ranks 20 of the largest apparel and footwear companies on their efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains.
The average overall score of the 20 companies that were ranked across seven measurement areas was 46 out of a possible 100, a relatively high number when compared to the other two sectors that KnowTheChain benchmarked earlier this year (information communications technology and food and beverage sectors).
However, there is still significant room for improvement. For example, almost half of the 20 companies assessed still do not demonstrate awareness of and commitment to addressing human trafficking and forced labor in their supply chains, and the average scores on benchmark themes such as recruitment (22/100) and worker voice (29/100) are low.
Most nations in the world participate to some degree in the textile and apparel sector, and the employment rate in this field is steadily increasing. Forced labor in this sector occurs both at the raw materials level and during the manufacturing stages of apparel and footwear companies’ supply chains. The report finds that all companies benchmarked can improve in rolling out programs that reach to all tiers of their supply chains.
Companies are encouraged to promote direct hiring of workers where possible as well as to perform robust due diligence of third-party recruitment agencies. Companies are also encouraged to engage directly with supply chain workers outside the factory context, allowing companies to get a clearer picture of what is happening on the ground.
The benchmark also highlights some encouraging findings. For example, companies scoring above the average score of 46/100 have taken at least initial steps across all seven themes, and the six highest-scoring companies also demonstrate strong practices with respect to training and stakeholder engagement.