Modern slavery has quickly become a hot button risk that can seriously undermine a company’s brand and reputation. Although most companies conduct due diligence on their direct suppliers, many lack the resources, capabilities or simply the inclination to look further down their supply chain where they are most vulnerable to potential human rights allegations. In addition, new regulations such as the UK Modern Slavery Act and the US Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act are increasing pressure for more responsible procurement practices.
The Polecat risk intelligence platform has been tracking the entire digital conversation about modern slavery over the past few years. Here are some of our top insights:
Approximately 13,000 online and social media postings discussed modern slavery and supply chain risk over the last 6 months. Of that activity, 26% were published in online media (e.g. mainstream news, blogs), and 74% in social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook).
Thailand had the most mentions for both online and social media. Top postings cited the use of forced labour in Nestlé’s seafood supply chain in Thailand for its shrimp products and Purina brand pet foods, including Fancy Feast. In fact, when looking at companies overall, Nestlé dominated the conversation among our list of Global 2000 corporations.
Based on our custom taxonomy of issues related to modern slavery, the most prominent online media postings cited Regulation and the UK, with top postings discussing a survey finding that many supply chain managers in the UK are failing to adhere to the Modern Slavery Act.
When it comes to products and raw materials, Cobalt – a key component of the lithium-ion batteries used in smart phones – was the most discussed in online media, with top postings citing Apple, Samsung and Sony. Shrimp was mentioned most frequently in social media, with top postings citing Nestlé’s seafood supply chain. Other top cited products and materials included cocoa – with references to Nestle, Hershey, Mars, Cadbury and Ghirardelli – and palm oil, which was often discussed in relation to PepsiCo and Indonesia.
Polecat’s risk intelligence platform tracks 122 operational risk topics for businesses and organizations, including modern slavery. We help global entities identify potential vulnerabilities in their supply chains, spot red flags, and track changes in the conversation about modern slavery over time.