Summary of Results
Companies' disclosure on the theme of Commitment & Governance is relatively strong. Companies that were benchmarked in both 2016 and 2018 have a significantly higher average score of 76/100 for this theme, showing meaningful improvements since the 2016 benchmark. However, there is little disclosure on how companies engage with stakeholders on the issue of forced labor, in particular with local stakeholders in countries where suppliers operate.
Commitment and supply chain standards
Twenty-nine out of 43 companies disclose a commitment to addressing forced labor in their supply chains. More than three-quarters of the companies (33 out of 43) disclose a supply chain standard that prohibits forced labor. Thirty-one companies disclose information on how they communicate that standard to their suppliers. Nike discloses that it communicates any updates to its standards to both first- and second-tier suppliers. Ten companies do not publicly disclose a supply chain standard.
Management and Accountability
More than half of the companies (28 out of 43) disclose a team, program, or officer with responsibility for human rights in their supply chains, with 23 disclosing that this responsibility extends to overseeing their supply chain standard which covers forced labor. Walmart, for instance, reports that it has 190 associates around the world working with suppliers to enforce its supply chain standards. Columbia Sportswear discloses that it has manufacturing liaison offices in eight Asian countries, staffed by its direct employees, which, it states, allows it to oversee production as well as monitor its suppliers' compliance with labor standards. Fewer companies reported on accountability at the board level, with 13 companies disclosing detail on board oversight of their supply chain standards on forced labor.
Thirty-one companies disclose that they deliver training to their employees on forced labor, although only 22 make clear that this training is delivered to procurement and sourcing staff. Half of the companies (22 out of 43) disclose that they train their suppliers on their forced labor policies and risks. Further, 13 companies disclose that such trainings are provided for suppliers in different countries or in different tiers. Six companies (Adidas, Asics, Burberry, H&M, L Brands, and Lululemon) disclose training delivered beyond their first-tier suppliers to their second- or third-tier suppliers. L Brands discloses training delivered to it first-, second-, and third-tier suppliers in China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and Sri Lanka. Since 2016, companies have also strengthened their training programs for both their own staff and their suppliers. Nine companies (Adidas, Gap, Fast Retailing, Hugo Boss, H&M, L Brands, Lululemon, Nike, and Primark) strengthened the training provided to their internal staff or suppliers. For example, H&M provided modern slavery training to its local sustainability staff in Cambodia and Vietnam, and Gap discloses that it conducted training sessions for its suppliers to provide them with an understanding of recruitment issues. Primark launched a mandatory modern slavery training, which was completed by 95% of its suppliers in 2017.
Disclosure on how companies engage with stakeholders on the issue of forced labor is poor. More than half of the companies (27 out of 43) provide some information on engagement with stakeholders. However, only ten companies give examples of working with stakeholders on forced labor in local supply chain contexts, and only seven disclose more than one example of doing so. Nike, for example, discloses that it has engaged with the US embassy in Malaysia, the Malaysian Ministry of Human Resources, and the ILO Malaysia office to learn more about government policies and ILO initiatives which focus on migrant workers. Adidas discloses that it engaged with local
and global NGOs and industry coalitions, as well as meat processors, traders, and apparel brands in Brazil to understand the risk of forced labor in leather sourcing from Brazil and Paraguay. Companies benchmarked in both years show improvements in their engagements with stakeholders: six companies provided more information on how they have worked with stakeholders, a number of which reported engaging with the Turkish government or local NGOs to address the risks of exploitation of Syrian refugees.
Twenty-seven companies disclose membership in multi-stakeholder initiatives that focus on eradicating forced labor, but only 14 provide detail on how they actively participate in such memberships. This includes initiatives such as the Fair Labor Association, Better Work, and the Mekong Club. VF discloses that it is a member of the Mekong Club and, through its membership, has been educating workers in factories on the risks associated with using labor brokers. It states it is also working with the Mekong Club to ensure it has a program in place to identify instances of forced labor in its Vietnamese and Chinese supply chains.