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Modern slavery scores on the doors

24 November, 2023

Earlier this week, CCLA Investment Management launched its Modern Slavery UK Benchmark to assess how the top 100 UK companies by market capitalisation are tackling modern slavery. Modern slavery is an abuse of human rights which continues to be rife, despite attempts of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and SDG 8.7. An estimated 50 million people worldwide currently experience modern slavery, with 28 million in forced labour and 22 million in forced marriages. And businesses are not immune – modern slavery is often tied up in their global operations and supply chains.

The CCLA Modern Slavery Benchmark evaluates the extent to which companies have complied with government legislation, and the extent to which they have found, fixed, and prevented modern slavery. To measure this, companies were reviewed on their 2022 public facing modern slavery statements and other disclosures (annual reports, human rights policies etc), scored, and categorised into performance tiers. Some of the top performers included Tesco, Next and Kingfisher in Tier 1, and NatWest Group was the highest-ranking financial services provider, appearing in Tier 2.

The benchmark goes beyond what has come before, providing a framework for businesses to structure their management and disclosures on modern slavery. It presents a series of recommendations on the need for strong governance, disclosure of detailed operational and supply chain risk assessments, disclosure of suspected cases of modern slavery and remedies to this, and the adoption of responsible procurement practices. The benchmark also enables learning through the sharing of best practices, leverages competition between businesses, and highlights the potential for businesses to act. From that perspective, there is lots to learn for any business interested in addressing these issues more effectively.

Importantly, the benchmark enables greater accountability and transparency, allowing investors and stakeholders to assess whether companies are effectively managing modern slavery. The CCLA says it will vote against the financial statements and annual accounts of all companies in Tier 4 or 5 and encourages other investors to do the same. This is a great example of investors putting their money where their mouth is. You can find out more about the benchmark here.

By Charlotte Pounder

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