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GLOBALOUTLOOK MODERNSLAVERY


Fightingmodern slaverywith data


NEW TECHNOLOGIES ARE HELPING FIGHT AN AGE-OLD PROBLEM, BUT ROOMFOR IMPROVEMENT REMAINS. DANIELLE MYLES REPORTS


I


n late 2020, the US government banned imports from two Malaysian palm oil producers


after investigations found evidence of forced labour on their planta- tions. In early 2021, the UK govern- ment announced plans to fine medium-sized and large companies for insufficient checks onhuman rights abuses in their supply chains. The problem of modernslavery


has never been more pressing. According to the International Labour Organization, some 25 million people are in forced labourworldwide— more than ever before—and it is ubiq- uitous across the globe, as shownby recent arrests over sweatshop condi- tions in textile factories in Leicester, UK. More consumers want ethically sourced products while environmen- tal, social and governance (ESG) investing hits the mainstream. In 2020, global investors representing $4.2tn issued a joint statement calling on governments to require businesses to conducthumanrights due dili- gence on their operations and supply


chains: in 2021, theEUplans to pro- pose rules that do exactly that. But traditionalmethods for


detecting and preventing modern slavery in supply chains are not up to the task. Many firms take a tick- box approach based on suppliers’ declarations. Even the most sophisti- cated onboarding processes often fail to look at second- and third-tier suppliers. In 2018, Deloitte found that two-thirds of supply chain lead- ers admit zero visibility beyond direct suppliers, which is where risk is more opaque andmore likely.


Connecting the dots Tech and data firms have increasingly risen to the challenge in recent years, improving supply chaintransparency to informprocurement and site-selec- tion decisions. One of themis FRDM, launched by Justin Dillonin 2018. “I’d had a lot of exposure to chief executiveswanting to domore and I’d spent a lot of timeon-the-ground with charity organisations rescuing children in supply chains,” he says. “I


sawhowthe dangerous labour of chil- dren, someas young as three, was connecting into global supply chains, but five years ago there was noway to trace and measure it.” His response was to build a data-


base of rawmaterials needed to man- ufacture the full spectrumof prod- ucts available today. FRDM’s plat- form draws on this database, cus- tomers’ invoice data, shipping records, risk reports andmedia mon- itoring, and uses predictive analytics to create dynamic heatmaps that showrisks at various tiers of custom- ers’ supply chains. “Forced labour doesn’t sit still for you to catch it and thrives because of its invisibility,” Mr Dillon says. FRDMhasmaximised its impact through partnerships with business software leader SAP and digital payments platform Tradeshift,which give their users access to FRDM’s solution. Commercial data providers are


also becoming involved. Dun & Bradstreet, which tracks some 420 million enterprises spanning 243


Big data: FRDM’s platform draws on customers’ invoice data, shipping records, risk reports and media monitoring 24 www.fDiIntelligence.com February/March 2021


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