As the uncertainties of 2020 overwhelm our society, one certainty remains clear: modern slavery continues to devastate lives. This exploitation can take many forms – human trafficking, servitude and forced labour. Contrary to what many may believe, modern slavery is not just a developing-world problem. It is an issue largely driven and sustained by multinationals that are trying to maximize their profits to meet insatiable consumer appetites.
Modern slavery is particularly prevalent within the clothing manufacturing and retail sectors. The Rana Plaza factory collapse devastated thousands of Bangladeshi lives back in 2013 and was a stark wake-up call for western retailers, consumers and international standardization organisations. However, since the collapse, there have been further reports of Uyghur workers forced into labour in Xinjiang concentration camps while 6,000 miles away in Leicester, workers are paid as little as £3.50 an hour, making clothes for fast-fashion brands.
The reality is that poor working practices have been allowed to exist for decades because these unethical conditions can be straightforward for an organisation to disguise.
As the media work hard to unearth brands and retailers at fault, the need for ethical sourcing has become a hot topic and an essential feature on many business agendas. However, the cost and complexities of ethical auditing can be a burden on some companies so they either don’t do it or they resort to generic factory audits that make it difficult to identify and resolve issues specific to their businesses.
There is also the question of how far down a supply chain the auditing is conducted; if it stops at Tier 2, how would an organisation know what treatment was going on below that level? Often it’s a question of cost and complexity: managing, say, 50 vendors at Tiers 1 and 2 using email, spreadsheets and telephone calls may just about be manageable but increasing that to include another 500 Tier 3 vendors may just about break that particular system and render it unworkable.
When discussing ethical sourcing, there seem to be four categories of which retailers and brand owners fall into:
- Those who say they ethically source and do
- Those who would like to ethically source but do not have a suitable programme
- Those who say they ethically source but do not
- Those who pay no attention to ethical sourcing at all
For all those that fall into category number 2, there is tangible hope. If a company wants to trade ethically and it has the will, culture and budget in place, then audit-management software, ClearChain is here to help.
ClearChain allows organisations to create their audit templates and allows access to suppliers to update action plans. Because of the customising ability, it supports auditing objectives of any type: sustainability, Net Zero, packaging, training needs, health & safety and more.
ClearChain also allows you to map your entire supply chain, giving you a holistic view of your entire operation. With the benefit of the audit data that is collected, it enables you to answer the big questions facing your organisation.
To learn more about the ClearChain software and how it can help your organisation reach its ethical sourcing objectives, then please visit https://www.clearchain.app/