How Can Your Company Address Modern Slavery? A Business Pledge Can Help You Figure It Out

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A new initiative is helping companies analyse, benchmark and refine their anti-slavery efforts in a systematic and confidential way: the ‘Business Pledge against Modern Slavery’, promoted by the Hong Kong-based NGO Mekong Club.

The Pledge is a free, voluntary initiative. It consists of a short statement declaring the corporate community’s recognition that modern slavery is a business issue, and their commitment to step up and address it. But publicly signing up to the Pledge is only the start of a much more comprehensive process. 

Companies that sign up agree to undergo a self-assessment that covers various aspects of their antislavery efforts, from awareness raising to risk assessment to capacity building and volunteering. Within each category, companies have to share whether they are already active in certain areas, or what plans they have to cover them in the near future, and score points accordingly. They also agree to have their answers assessed and monitored by the Mekong Club.

“Companies that are approaching this issue for the first time are looking for guidelines to start their anti-slavery strategies,” said Silvia Mera, program director of the Mekong Club. “They are also looking for standards they can refer to. The Pledge offers them this information. Companies can consider the various options, choose the ones that are most appropriate, and then apply them to their internal processes.”This self-assessment aims to be a constructive learning process for companies. 

Individual results are not shared publicly, and, by signing up, companies get free access to the Mekong Club’s expertise and support, with their progress being monitored and compared with those of others in their industry.

The main goal of this initiative is to engage companies and start a dialogue around the issue. Companies need to understand why the issue matters to them, and how they can have an impact on it.

The self-assessment process has also proved helpful for companies who have to comply with transparency in supply chains laws such as those enforced in California, the United Kingdom, France and soon Australia, as it adds clarity to the daunting exercise of collecting information to include in public statements. 

The initiative has already been signed by companies from the manufacturing, retail and banking sectors, including A.S. Watson, VF, Adidas, MGM, Coop, and Clarks.

The Pledge was launched by the Mekong Club in November 2017 during an event supported by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong and Macau. For more information please contact: silvia.mera@themekongclub.org

Read the entire article on the Mekong Club’s website.