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Supply Chain Slavery Index Identifies High-Risk Countries in Fashion Supply Chains

Image Credit: Environmental Justice Foundation

The fashion industry is in the midst of a revolution, with more and more companies ramping up efforts to clean up their supply chains, eliminate polluting practices from manufacturing and imbed circular principles into their business models. Just last week, luxury goods holding company Kering released the next phase of its sustainability strategy and H&M launched its Bring It” campaign and film, which draws attention to its Garment Collecting Initiative and closed-loop commitment.

Despite these efforts and achievements, the industry is still plagued by environmental and ethical issues, but tools such as BSI Group’s Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index offer a new way for businesses and organizations to identify and address human rights abuses in their supply chains. The Index is unique in cross-referencing source countries of displaced people, and their likelihood of being exploited in destination countries.

Russia, Slovakia, India and Pakistan have been identified as ‘severe risk’ source countries of ‘modern day slaves’ to the UK. Of the G7 nations, Italy is identified as a ‘high risk’ nation — partly due to the conflict in Syria. Greece and Turkey are additionally categorized as ‘high risk’ countries.

The presentation of tens of thousands of pairings of source/destination countries and their relative risk provides a broad understanding of the breadth of threats to global supply chains. These include human rights abuses, security threats and business continuity risks. The information presented in the Index allows organizations the ability to make informed decisions about sourcing products and materials, as well as how to engage suppliers to drive continuous improvement in supporting worker needs throughout the supply chains.

In the UK, the Modern Slavery Act of 2015 (MSA) is highlighting the issue of modern slavery and human trafficking, and the risk to business of finding examples of it in global supply chains. It is currently estimate that 13,000 men, women and children endure modern slavery or forced labor in the UK. Globally, an estimated 45.8 million people are in some form of modern slavery in 167 countries. Several high-profile court cases have highlighted the irresponsible practices that are occurring in full view across Britain.

Kevin Hyland, OBE, The UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner said: “Evidence suggests labor exploitation is rife in the UK. Construction, agriculture, hospitality and seafood are core sectors in my work against modern slavery. Along with statutory agencies, government departments and NGOs, it is incumbent on companies to drive out any forms of exploitation.”

BSI’s Trafficking & Supply Chain Slavery Patterns Index shines a critical light for business, government, and civil society to understand the risk associated with the movement and exploitation of people between 191 source countries and 193 destination countries. Each combination of countries has been ranked from low to severed based on score.

The Index’s inputs include BSI’s proprietary SCREEN Force Labor Intelligence along with independent trafficking and exploitation data, economic disparity and countries’ geographical proximity information. The data has been verified against the citations made by credible sources to provide a holistic understanding of the probability of these types of abuses, threats and risks as well as real-world documented cases.

“The Index, along with BSI’s risk management services and solutions, empowers organizations to focus their efforts on identifying and assessing ‘at risk’ suppliers and to manage the risks proactively. In doing so, progressive organizations will lessen their exposure to operational disruption, reputational damage, financial — including share price volatility — and potential legal consequences,” said Chris McCann, principal consultant, Supply Chain Services and Solutions at BSI.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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