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How Slave-Free Alliance helps protect business from slavery and human trafficking

ICAS is working with Hope for Justice, a global non-profit organisation which aims to end human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

Hope for Justice provides training in how to spot the signs of modern slavery and how to respond. It works with the police and other agencies to rescue victims of modern slavery and then restore and rebuild their lives.

Businesses in Scotland can find out how they can help work towards a slave-free supply chain by attending a modern slavery seminar in Glasgow on Wednesday 27 February .

Why join Slave-Free Alliance?

In April 2018, Hope for Justice founded Slave-Free Alliance, a membership scheme for organisations that are taking seriously the issue of preventing exploitation in their operations and supply chains.

Slave-Free Alliance covers small, medium and large businesses and organisations from the public and voluntary sectors. Slave-Free Alliance offers businesses a coherent and thought-through solution to a complex and growing risk area.

Slave-Free Alliance is targeted at pioneering businesses who want to protect and enhance their reputations and ensure that their employees and those of their suppliers are not exploited, while also meeting their compliance requirements and acting in an ethical and responsible way towards their workforce.

Slave-Free Alliance represents a best practice minimum standard of meeting compliance obligations, as well as an anti-slavery ‘kite mark’ which demonstrates a positive, ethical statement of commitment.

With surveys showing that 77% of companies expect to find modern slavery in their operations or supply chains, Slave-Free Alliance was created as a simpler way for employers to get the answers and support they need to combat this growing threat.

Read more about the full benefits of joining the Slave-Free Alliance.

Ben Cooley, Group CEO of Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to launch the Slave-Free Alliance, to help all businesses address modern slavery in their supply chains, offering unique resources and the expertise of our professional teams.

“We have many years of experience in tackling this issue, having dealt with thousands of cases, giving us exceptional insight into the complexity of supply chain exploitation both globally and in the UK.”

“As a charity, we have already been working for many years with businesses, from small enterprises to large PLCs, to give them one-to-one support in facing issues within their supply chains. Slave-Free Alliance takes this to the next level.”

“We understand that this is a risk area that is not always well understood, and it is particularly hard for even the best businesses to get to grips with. That is why we are providing some easy steps that will work for you whether you are just starting your journey on the way to a slave-free supply chain, or whether you have already begun to take action.”

“Joining Slave-Free Alliance is a simple and entry-level solution to turning your business and supply chain into a fortress that is protected from modern slavery.”

Raising awareness of modern slavery

Most businesses will be unaware that modern slavery exists within their business activities, and members of the scheme will work with each other to raise awareness and eradicate slavery and exploitation in their workforces or supply chains.

The reputational damage of discovering cases of slavery and exploitation can be severe.

Among the companies who do have victims of modern slavery in their supply chains or their own operations, few are complicit themselves.

Instead, most are the unwitting victims of predatory traffickers who seek to exploit businesses by infiltrating their supply chains with exploitative forced labour for their own profit.

The founding members of Slave-Free Alliance and those in the process of joining are drawn from a wide variety of sectors across the UK economy, including recruitment, finance, construction, insurance, retail, fresh produce, property and utilities. Among the growing number of members are Severn Trent, Orchard Facilities Management, Chadwick Lawrence, Electricity North West and Dixons Carphone.

Richard Bean, Head of Risk, Control & Assurance at Electricity North West, said: “We were keen to join Slave-Free Alliance in order to protect our local communities and those further afield that form part of our supply chain, playing our part in helping to eradicate slavery.

“We hope to work with other members of the Slave-Free Alliance to strengthen supply chain controls to address the risk of slavery, ensuring that we do all we can as a responsible, ethically-run business to back up our publicly stated zero-tolerance towards modern slavery.

“Additionally, we encourage our employees and representatives to speak up should they see or hear things that don’t feel right from a slavery perspective as they go about their daily work, thereby helping to protect our communities from this abhorrent activity. We want to work collaboratively with other companies to change lives and end slavery. We see Slave-Free Alliance as a great opportunity to do this.”

Simon Murray, Ethical & Quality Standards Manager at Dixons Carphone said: “As a business, we have made inroads but there is always more we can do to ensure our business and supply chains are free of modern slavery.”

“By joining with like-minded businesses and utilising the experience of Hope for Justice investigators, trainers and specialists we hope to accelerate that progress and mitigate risk. We urge our suppliers and other business to join Slave-Free Alliance and collaborate towards eradicating slavery.”

Any profits made by Slave-Free Alliance will be reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects.

David Wood is the Senior Policy Director in ICAS.

This article was originally published by ICAS.