When you hear the word ‘slavery’ it no doubt conjures up shocking and distressing historical connotations. What is more shocking is the realisation that slavery actually still exists today and often it is hidden in plain sight.
On Thursday 7th November we hosted an invitation-only roundtable event in collaboration with our industry peers and supply chain to discuss how we tackle this very real and serious issue together. Even as individual’s it is the sad reality that we probably encounter a by-product of slavery every day, be it through the clothes that we wear or the food we consume. Can we actually determine that what we eat, wear or use has been ethically produced? Unfortunately we can’t.
However, as a responsible business we can address this in a more targeted way and this begins with ensuring we have transparency within our supply chain and with our industry partners. It is not a case of ‘if’ we discover slavery it’s a case of ‘when’.
Not only did the event allow us to candidly explore this through discussion but we also invited Andrew Wallis OBE, the CEO of modern slavery charity Unseen UK, to present to the group. Andrew was frank and honest. Through his work delivering training, raising awareness and advising governments around the world about modern slavery he was able to share some very hard-hitting facts and case studies. In 2016, at any given time, an estimated 40.3 million people worldwide were in modern slavery, including 24.9 million in forced labour and 15.4 million people in forced marriage. 70% of these are women and girls and sadly one in four victims of modern slavery are children. You can see some of these case studies for yourself here.
The event ended with the group agreeing to continue to raise awareness and work collaboratively to ensure that modern slavery is not something to be ignored.
If you think someone may be a victim of slavery or exploitation, you can call the confidential UK modern slavery helpline 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - 08000 121 700.