Is your Supply Chain Protected against Modern Slavery and Child Labour

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

There have been many global scandals of child labour being used in well-known international brands supply chain, from sportswear, electronic goods to children working in mines in the extractive industry. International organisations such as Amnesty international continue to research and report on the global ongoing problem.

Many organisations globally have woken up to this and are taking proactive steps. The UN Global Compact has confirmed that forced labour and child labour are more prevalent in some countries and sectors, but none are immune to these abuses. They have published figures that estimate:

  • 25 million people are the victim of forced labour

  • 152 million children are victims of child labour, almost half are in hazardous work

  • $150 billion is made per year in illegal profits from forced labour

  • 77% of companies believe there is a high likelihood of modern slavery occurring in their supply chains, according to one survey

There are now over 9,000 corporate signatories to the UN Global Compact for business to be a force for good that includes aligning company strategies and operations to take action and advance the universal principals of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption goals.


So how do we put together a strategy to target and mitigate the risk of modern slavery and child labour within our supply chain and not just a tick box audit on whether a supplier has a policy. How do you demonstrate that your organisation is serious about this issue and in taking a risk based approach, is your organisation able to answer a number of key questions, specifically?

  • Are you able to map where the global threat is from people trafficking and modern slavery

  • Do you have visibility of the vendors supply chain and how that impacts the level of risk from your threat map

  • What proactive steps has the vendor taken to mitigate this risk

  • How do they mitigate risk in their own supply chain

  • In key risk areas are vendors given training on your company policies and stance on child labour and modern slavery

  • Do you have the ability to collect local intelligence on child labour and modern slavery practices in key risk areas

  • Do you have a contract clause that stipulate vendor compliance with UN Global Compact requirement in the principles of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption

  • Do you have a no notice audit contract clause to support a proactive approach where increased supply chain risk is identified


A consistent approach should be taken at the vendor registration process to ensure that a vendor doesn’t bring an unknown risk into your organisation. In addition to the normal checks and balances taken during the on boarding of a vendor, an additional risk based approach should be taken to child labour and modern slavery. Within an international environment are you taking enough action to:

  • research and vet individuals, executives and shareholders of a company

  • conduct due diligence of supplier background for undisclosed risks

  • carry out onsite vendor visit to verify disclosures made by the supplier during the vetting process and verify ability to perform contract requirement

There is no one size fits all approach to mitigating your supply chain risk and the risk of slave labour and child labour being introduced, however, an organisation should take a proactive approach to mitigate its risks and develop its strategy and response plan should the risk increase or where non-compliance with this requirement is identified.