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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Modern Slavery Statements – One Year On

Wed 31 May 2017

One year on, what have we learned from Modern Slavery Statements? 

Since the UK’s Modern Slavery Act came into force in 2015, it is estimated that only 2,000 statements out of around 15,000 have been published. Many of these have failed to meet the basic requirements of the law and too many are cut-and-paste jobs that don’t say anything meaningful.

But responsible companies are using their statements to drive change in their companies and in their supply chains and see the legislation as a ‘game changer’.

This Ethical Insights breakfast session reviewed the lessons, insights, good and bad practice from Modern Slavery Statements. Some questions that were grappled with:

  • How much are companies doing on modern slavery?
  • What do companies know about the scale of the problem?
  • How much are companies happy to disclose?
  • What are the signs of a company genuinely getting to grips with modern slavery?
  • How much progress can we expect each year?

Speakers included CORE’s Director Marilyn Croser, among other experts in the field. They explored current issues, highlighted dilemmas and discussed best practice.

Our speakers

Benet Northcote, Director Corporate Responsibility, John Lewis Partnership

John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is the UK’s largest example of an employee-owned business, operating John Lewis and Waitrose shops and websites, as well as business to business contracts in the UK and abroad, with annual gross sales of over £11bn. A long-standing ETI member with a serious commitment to ethical trade, JLP just published their second modern slavery statement. Benet will talk about the process of drafting the statements and the changes between the two, setting out JLP’s ambitions and the reaction to the statements.

Stuart Bell, Director – Policy, Ergon Associates

Ergon Associates is a specialist consultancy in the field of decent work, encompassing labour rights, employment and development. Ergon have published reports on modern slavery statements, analyzing how companies are interpreting the reporting requirements and how modern slavery due diligence is being implemented in practice, as well as the quality and scope of the statements. Stuart will provide an overview of their findings so far, with examples of good practice as well as challenges.

Marilyn Croser, Director, CORE

CORE is a UK civil society coalition on corporate accountability. CORE was instrumental in securing the inclusion of a clause on Transparency In Supply Chains (TISC) during the development of the Modern Slavery Act and published a report on what NGOs expect to see in a modern slavery statement. Marilyn will discuss effective reporting and set out CORE’s assessment on progress against these criteria.