INTHEBLACK July 2020 - Page 51



F E AT U R E
// MODERN SLAVERY
“I’VE FOUND IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT THE HUMAN IMPACT
FIRST...WE ALWAYS START WITH THE STORIES, BECAUSE PEOPLE NEED
TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE HUMAN IMPACT OF MODERN SLAVERY ACTUALLY
MEANS IN REAL LIFE.”
DEEPEN SOMAIYA, TRANSURBAN
Top: In this garment
factory in Narayanganj,
Bangladesh, women
and men work equal
shifts for equal pay.
Above: Adherring to
on-site work safety
standards is an
important aspect of
mitigating the risk
of modern slavery.
MEMBER
RESOURCE
To access CPA Australia’s
Modern Slavery
Compass, visit:
cpaaustralia.com.au/
slaverycompass
56 ITB July 2020
“When the Act refers to risks of modern slavery, it
is referring to risks to victims and potential victims in
operations and supply chains. It is not talking about a
risk to the business, and this is a deep mindset change
that business needs to make,” Black says.
“If you simply cancel a supplier who has a problem,
you don’t actually help the victims, you just raise the
risk for those victims that there may be a backlash
against them and that they may be further enmeshed
in these horrific practices.”
Transurban has been digging into its supply chain
over the past two years, and Somaiya says that, from
conception, the program was very much centred on
labour and human rights.
“The single greatest challenge was a general lack
of knowledge and understanding about what modern
slavery actually is. This is not just within our business
– it’s also evident through our supply chain.”
Highlighting the human impact of slavery has
helped Transurban educate its staff as they prepare
to report, says Somaiya.
“I’ve found it’s extremely important to look at the
human impact first. Before we get into any theoretical
kind of process with teams like procurement, we
always start with the stories, because people need to
understand what the human impact of modern slavery
actually means in real life.”
CREATING IMPACT
South32 has been reporting under the UK Modern
Slavery Act for the past four years, and is due to
submit its first mandatory report under Australia’s
Modern Slavery Act this year. Yapp says the Act’s
section on effectiveness presented one of the biggest
reporting challenges.
“We have the numbers on how many people we’ve
trained or how many audits we’ve completed, but our
focus is to make sure our work in this area is having an
impact for the people at the end of the supply chain,
and that can be challenging,” Yapp says.
South32 joined forces with a consortium of other
resources companies to develop ways to achieve that
impact. This included the development of a single
risk-screening questionnaire for their suppliers, which
often overlap.
“We want to make sure our efforts generate real
impact – not just create additional paperwork for
our suppliers. As an industry consortium, we agreed
to a set of supplier risk-assessment questions with
supporting guidance notes. We want our suppliers to
receive a united message from the industry, which is
that we take modern slavery very seriously,” Yapp says.
With the first reports due this year, the question
remains whether the Act’s requirements will bring any
change to supply chains. Black says time will tell, and the
introduction of the Act in Australia is a vital first step.
“I’d say that this is a step in the right direction, but I
think we need to wait probably a few years to see what
the cumulative impact of this effort might be. We need
more jurisdictions to enforce similar legislation, and
we need every section of society to play their part in
combating this problem.”
intheblack.com July 2020 57

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