Following California’s 2010 Transparency in Supply Chains Act, the United Kingdom put forward the first national legal framework for combatting modern slavery, the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Under Section 54, it includes a provision on transparency in supply chains that requires companies supplying goods or services in the UK with an annual turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual modern slavery statement indicating the steps they are taking to identify and address modern slavery risks.
In 2018, Australian became the second Commonwealth country in the world to pass a Modern Slavery Act. It establishes a requirement for companies with profits of over AU$100 million to release annual reports on their actions to address modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. It is the culmination of a major campaign by Walk Free in partnership with government leaders, civil society, religious figures and business partners.
We work with WikiRate, and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre to understand compliance under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. With an estimated 12,000-17,000 companies having to publish statements per annum, this work entails reviewing modern slavery statements, a tool for greater transparency for consumers, businesses, policymakers and civil society organisations.
We take a sector-specific approach to conduct a more tailored analysis of the statements and their quality, and to develop recommendations of what constitutes a strong statement and good business practice. We started by reviewing the compliance of the hotel sector with the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, which demonstrated critical gaps in reporting. The next sector will be the financial sector and investors.
We are also exploring the feasibility of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to speed up our processes for assessing the statements in collaboration with The Future Society – the AI Against Modern Slavery (AIMS) project.