Invisible Supply Chain Workers Vulnerable to Labor Exploitation: Where Are Your Blind Spots?

Invisible Supply Chain Workers Vulnerable to Labor Exploitation: Where Are Your Blind Spots?

Due diligence is a staple within most human rights compliance programs. However, the narrow focus on supply chain actors involved in corporate production and processing activities has emerged as an obstacle to compliance with regulations like the UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act. This is because other actors in the supply chain are often left out of human rights risk assessments and associated mitigation activities, even though these laborers are among the most vulnerable in the entire supply chain.

Don’t let blind spots ruin your company’s human rights record. Learn more in our eBook: Human Trafficking, Slavery & Your Supply Chain.

Increased Pressure on Companies to Check “Blind Spots”

As a result, human rights and regulatory bodies are pressuring companies to identify and address their supply chain “blind spots”, where slavery risks are high. Workers operating in these “blind spots” typically fall outside of a company’s core production and processing activities, and are usually subject to little (or no) due diligence. This can include low-skilled, low-paid, temporary and sometimes migrant workers who provide support services in economies characterized by minimal risk levels, such as trucking and transportation, cleaning, catering and security.

Rather than being outliers, these invisible workers are integral to a company’s ability to bring its product and/or service to the market. Given the majority are low skilled and financially insecure due to the emphasis on contract-based work, many do not have the economic freedom to terminate their employment if their human rights are violated. In the absence of proper corporate due diligence, this leaves them with little access to remedy, and exposes companies to risk of reputational damage, supply chain disruption and more.

Case Study

A number of high-profile companies have recently made headlines for failing to check their blind spots. Among them are companies recognized for strong leadership in the improvement of workers’ rights in their suppliers’ factories. However, further investigation revealed the same due diligence had not been conducted across the entire supply chain.

One company in the apparel industry, for example, was accused of exporting through a Madagascan port manned by casual dock workers whose labor rights were called into question. Most of these workers operated without any safety equipment and struggled to make ends meet on their low wages. Furthermore, some of them were allegedly fired for trying to unionize to obtain better working conditions. The issue is now being disputed at the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Assent’s Human Rights Module empowers your company to avoid “blind spots”. Find out how.

How Assent Helps

Assent’s Human Rights Module is helping companies take action to identify and address risks of trafficking and slavery in their supply chains. It accepts data from the industry-standard Human Trafficking Risk Template (HTRT), and allows companies to screen for risk among forgotten supply chain actors, gain visibility into their practices, and better target audits, risk mitigation and prevention activities.

Learn more about the human trafficking and slavery regulations affecting your company in the free eBook, Human Trafficking, Slavery & Your Supply Chain, or contact