We launched the first KnowTheChain benchmarks in 2016 amid an increase in expectations for companies to report on risks of forced labor in their supply chains. Our intention was to move focus away from legal compliance and instead shift action toward assessing the implementation of effective practices. With the completion of our 2018 benchmarks there is now comparative data over two evaluation years that identifies where critical attention is needed.
We have seen that while companies are undertaking additional efforts to address forced labor, progress has been slow, and the majority of improvements are happening at the policy and process level. These high-level actions are far afield from creating an environment in which workers are systemically less vulnerable to, and better protected from, the well-documented risks of forced labor.
Across all of our benchmarks we have found that the areas that have the greatest impact on workers — worker voice and recruitment — continue to be the areas where companies perform the worst.
Some important progress has occurred, and companies that have been benchmarked twice have improved, but an average company score of 33/100 across all sectors demonstrates that these improvements have not yet led to systemic improvements to the conditions that global supply chain workers live and labor in. We are all still in the beginning stages of this work, but it’s grown in urgency.
The purpose of this report is to share the key findings and themes that emerged from our most recent benchmark cycle, and to look at trends we’ve seen over our two benchmark cycles. Our goal is to highlight the interventions that can enable companies and investors across all sectors to meaningfully address and prevent forced labor in their supply chains. Included within the report is an Excel tool with guidance to companies on how to start or expand their efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains with good practice examples by sector and by indicator.