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May 18, 2021

New ‘Tool’ Helps Identify Forced Labor in Supply Chains

  • by Admin

Sedex, a trade membership organization that strives to protect workers by improving conditions in global supply networks, has launched a new tool it says can help sourcing companies identify potential forced labor in their supply chains. The Sedex Forced Labour Indicators tool uses what the organization describes as a data-driven approach to help companies understand where indicators of forced labor may exist within a sourcing chain. Taken independently or in various combinations, the indicators can suggest the risk of forced labor within a worker's employment cycle, Sedex asserts. A Bangladeshi child working in a glass bangles factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh on June 19, 2016. Ensuring that supply chains are free of forced labor is a top priority for sourcing professionals within the North American promo industry, which relies largely on overseas factories, particularly in China, to produce the vast majority of products that are sold domestically. Companies within promo and beyond have intensified the focus on rooting out forced labor in recent years amid a growing body of evidence that such coerced work is occurring at scale in Xinjiang, a region of China that produces about 20% of the world's cotton supply - cotton that can make it into apparel and other products sold in the West. In January, the United States began enforcing a ban on Xinjiang cotton . Globally, nearly 25 million people are reportedly victims of forced labor, with women and girls accounting for 58% of that exploited population, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO). To help combat this, the Sedex Forced Labour Indicators tool draws on what the organization described as non-compliances and observations raised during audits at factories to identify so-called clues that point to possible forced labor. The number of indicators - based on research by the ILO - identified at specific sites are categorized and weighted to calculate a site's audit indicator score. This is presented alongside additional risk information, including data taken from a site's self-assessment questionnaire and Sedex's custom Forced Labour Index, which assesses forced labor risks for four economic sectors: agriculture, food processing, manufacturing and logistics. "Together this information can help you understand where to prioritize your resources and take action to ensure that all workers in your supply chain are receiving decent work," said Sedex, noting the Forced Labour Indicator tool is located within Radar, the organization's risk assessment tool. "Sedex's mission is to help businesses improve working conditions and eliminate worker exploitation throughout their supply chains," said Sedex CEO Simon McCalla. "Forced labor is extremely difficult to identify, but data is our ally here. Our Forced Labour Indicators tool is valuable in helping businesses with this challenging task, enabling them to prioritize taking action where the risks of forced labor are highest."

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