Article_four_photo.jpgHas the Modern Slavery Act had an impact on business?

Ergon Associates and Historic Futures have combined their skills and insight to research what effect the Modern Slavery Act (MSA) is having on businesses across the United Kingdom.

A total of 34 companies from a range of sectors and sizes took part in the study to determine the degree to which the MSA was driving broader changes in areas including risk assessment, supply chain management and ethical trade of human rights processes.

The report has indicated there is a greater focus on policy development, risk assessment and monitoring of modern slavery within businesses, with increased engagement on the issue of modern slavery. However, the findings also suggest that most businesses do not yet have a systematic approach to assessing risks and that few do this beyond their first tier suppliers.

There has been a significant increase in engagement on supply chain risk issues following the introduction of the Act. 76% of respondents reported that directors are now more engaged with issues of risks within supply chains, with 62% of buyers and 58% of ethical trading teams also recognising the importance. Businesses also recognise that MSA statements should be signed off at board level as a catalyst for of change.

There has also been increased engagement on issues of risk within supply chains leading to a greater focus on policy development, risk assessment and risk monitoring. This included 74% reporting an increased focus on policy development and codes of conduct. However most companies are still at the stage of assessing what policies to put in place and therefore less change has been reported regarding remedial action.

The MSA guidelines indicate companies need to demonstrate how they collect data about the structure and complexity of their supply chains. The report showed that very little useful data beyond tier one is collected and mechanisms to collect data are ad hoc and not done in a systematic way. 56% of companies report that they rarely receive information about who is involved in their extended supply chain.

To help businesses moving forward, Ergon Associates has outlined best practice in regards to the Act including:

  • Better and more consistent risk assessment
  • Greater use of collaborative risk assessment and due diligence processes
  • Detailed action plans and focussed responses to identified risks of modern slavery
  • More transparency in MSA statements on where companies have taken defined steps to prevent the risk of modern slavery or respond to specific scenarios.

A full copy of the research report can be found here


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