Slave-Free Alliance: A Global Forum for Change – Post Conference Review

“There’s nothing quite like being in a room full of people committed to creating social impact, and I feel so energised after all our conversations and shared learnings.” Rachel Hartley, Consultancy Director, Slave-Free Alliance 

It was a day to remember!

All of us at Slave-Free Alliance would like to thank all those who took the time to participate in our latest Annual Conference, held in London on 27th September 2023. We welcomed nearly 100 delegates from 51 different organisations, all with the common goal of ending modern slavery and exploitation and changing lives. 

Tim Nelson, the CEO of Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance, opened the day with a reminder of the scale of the problem that society is facing and the complexities of the labour exploitation spectrum. He presented an overview of the work of Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance and the importance of collaboration to protect human rights in supply chains.

We were then privileged to welcome Katharine Bryant, Head of Policy and Programme at the Walk Free Foundation, who deconstructed the Global Slavery Index for us, highlighting the latest trends, and walking us through the complex methodologies used to produce the level of reliable details that goes into such a ground-breaking study. She reaffirmed the message that “there is not one industry or region free from modern slavery” which resonated with the whole audience as a call to action for the day.  

The conference was then divided into three sections.  The morning explored ethical business practices in business supply chains, firstly addressing the role of unethical recruitment in exploitation and modern slavery. Elenor Smith from Slave-Free Alliance and guest speaker Andy York from Pilgrim Foods discussed the drivers of unethical practices and a range of possible solutions. Key takeaways from the session were that it’s crucial to understand a worker’s journey, both from a recruitment process and geographical perspective. Furthermore, this is clearly a global challenge and continued vigilance, and consistent due diligence are key to effecting change.

This session was followed with an interactive energiser from SFA’s Tom Frost, exploring the role that Health and Safety in the workplace plays in identifying and addressing exploitation in supply chains. The audience was involved in an interactive risk-spotting exercise and taken on a journey to see how Health and Safety concerns could be indicative of modern slavery. Tom commented afterwards: “It was great to see such engagement with the session and to discuss the ways in which health safety considerations can be incorporated into modern slavery due diligence.” 

The final session before lunch was conducted by SFA’s Rebecca Vernon and Shirley Goodrick who together with guest speaker, Tanya Murphy from AstraZeneca, explored the connection between enabling living wages, purchasing practices and the exploitation spectrum.

“Just returned from The Slave Free Alliance Annual Conference Global Forum for Change. We explored the concerning rise in exploitation due to Covid and global conflicts. Diverse experiences and ideas were exchanged on tackling modern slavery. Collaboration emerged as a key takeaway—joining forces with like-minded companies is paramount. Together, we can make a difference in the fight against modern slavery”. Fabio Muscat Chief Executive Officer, Ozo Group, Malta 

After lunch, the focus turned to the challenge of building ethical supply chains and the importance of collaboration, sustainability, and responsible action.  SFA’s Rachel Hartley led a panel discussion, with guest speakers Fernando Lopez del Prado (Imperial Brands), Opi Outhwaite (UN Environment Programme), Ashley Patton (Sands Capital), Simon Murray (Currys) and Julia Black (Hilton Foods). After an inspiring discussion, the key takeaways were clear: the importance of a worker-centric approach, focusing on collaboration with suppliers as peers and incentivising good practices, the need to think holistically about ESG, and always be transparent and open about risks.

Two highly interesting and productive break-out sessions followed, dealing with key issues facing businesses: addressing global legislation, and escalation and remediation processes for Human Rights concerns. Both rooms engaged with interactive activities and had a chance to network and share their ideas with experts and representatives from other businesses.

“Our members’ conference showcased the extraordinary potential of collaboration among member organizations. It was an exceptional gathering where diverse stakeholders came together, sharing innovative strategies and insights to combat this issue. The event not only fostered a deeper understanding of the multifaceted challenges posed by modern slavery but also demonstrated the commitment of our members to have a transformative impact. It served as a testament to the unwavering commitment of these organizations to working together for a brighter future”. Marc Stanton Slave-Free Alliance Director 

Our final focus for the day was the ways that businesses could maximise technological advances to have a social impact. We were thrilled to have Skyler Chi and Jon Ball from Exiger demonstrated how AI technology can play a pivotal role in mapping risks in supply chains, including its crucial role in addressing modern slavery and forced labour risks in an increasingly complex global ecosystem.

Finally, Simone Vannuccini, Professor of Economics of Artificial Intelligence and Innovation at Universite Cote d’Azur presented a fascinating insight into the world of AI and its power to be transformative in the ways it can impact the functioning of supply chains, including its own.  

We ended our day with a chance to reflect and build on networking opportunities for future collaboration. Tim Nelson, CEO of Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance, summed up the day and its lasting impact.  

“It was truly inspiring to attend the Slave-Free Alliance (SFA) Annual Conference in London last week at the salubrious Jones Day Offices. Meeting so many of our members and witnessing how they harness the power of SFA as a resource was a testament to our collective commitment to end slavery and change lives. The SFA’s team’s ability to anticipate and fulfil our members’ needs is nothing short of remarkable. As SFA progresses as a growing organisation with associated working groups globally, it will be interesting to see how next year’s conference will compare to be even bigger and better, offering SFA members even more value for money and expertise, not only from our dedicated team but from peers within all specialisms”  Tim Nelson, CEO Hope for Justice and Slave-Free Alliance 

A final thank you goes to Exiger for sponsoring our event and to Jones Day for being exceptional hosts.

Slave-Free Alliance membership

Slave-Free Alliance is wholly owned by the charity Hope for Justice, and all profits are reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects worldwide. Slave-Free Alliance operates in the UK, USA, Australia and Norway. Membership of Slave-Free Alliance is open to organisations of all sizes. To explore how the team at Slave-Free Alliance can help you protect your organisation from the growing threat of modern slavery, visit

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