Slave-Free Alliance marks one year since launch

Slave-Free Alliance, the social enterprise launched by anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice one year ago today, now has members whose combined revenue is in the hundreds of billions, employing nearly half a million people around the world.

Membership includes global multinationals, household names like Aviva, Dixons Carphone, Clarks and Arriva, as well as SMEs with only a few employees, all sharing a common goal: to work towards a slave-free supply chain.

A wide variety of business sectors are represented among our membership, including: business and professional services, engineering, data analysis and IT, utilities and energy, environmental services, food manufacturing, agriculture, insurance, legal, pharmaceutical, property services, recruitment, retail, transport and waste management.

Slave-Free Alliance is the business sector’s acknowledgement that slavery in supply chains is real and a key factor driving human trafficking in the developing world and across borders to countries like the UK. It can affect any unprepared business, no matter their sector, though some industries are at particular risk – notably waste and recycling, agriculture, low-skilled manufacturing, hand car washes, beauty salons and the hospitality and restaurant sector. Businesses that import goods from high-risk countries are often affected too. Even many businesses who consider themselves completely ‘safe’ are unaware of how their everyday procurement practices can bring them into contact with other companies whose own operations have been infiltrated by traffickers and exploitative recruiters, forcing victims into forced labour.

Victims are controlled using a variety of coercive methods, including violence and threats, debt bondage, deceit, psychological manipulation and physical confinement.

Membership of Slave-Free Alliance is open to all organisations, including those from the public sector and voluntary sector. As a social enterprise wholly owned by Hope for Justice, all profits made are reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects around the world.

Ben Cooley, Group CEO of Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice, said: “We have seen 12 months of exceptional growth and success since our launch, with businesses joining us at a faster rate and at a bigger scale than we predicted. We are delighted that so many organisations are making use of our world-leading services and putting themselves at the forefront of this movement, showing their public commitment to working towards a slave-free supply chain.”

Slave-Free Alliance offers a wide range of services and access to its experts, including training, gap analysis, due diligence, risk management resources, and help with investigations, crisis response, remediation and Slavery and Human Trafficking Statements (required for large businesses under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act 2015, but having one is considered good practice for organisations of all sizes).

With surveys showing that 77% of companies expect to find modern slavery in their operations or supply chains, membership of Slave-Free Alliance is a simple way for employers to get the answers and support they need to combat this growing threat.

Below we have reproduced some of the comments we have received from businesses about their membership of Slave-Free Alliance and why they chose to join:

Steve Lanigan, CEO of ALS Managed Services, said: “We joined Slave-Free Alliance as we felt their proactive and tireless approach, hands-on risk management, support mechanisms and ethical stance towards the welfare of modern slavery victims within our society was a refreshing approach to confronting a significant and growing problem we all need to address. The ongoing training, guidance and support offered by Slave-Free Alliance ensures that our membership sits as more than a badge on our website, it is an integral part to how we do business.”

Sharon Keith, Director of Corporate and Social Responsibility at Arriva, said: “Slave-Free Alliance is an excellent organisation to help us to develop our plans, to make sure we are future-proofing our business around modern slavery and human trafficking.”

Simon Murray, Ethical & Quality Standards Manager at Dixons Carphone, said: “As a business we have made inroads but there is always more we can do to ensure our business and supply chains are free of modern slavery. By joining with like-minded businesses and utilising the experience of Hope for Justice investigators, trainers and specialists we hope to accelerate that progress and mitigate risk. We urge our suppliers and other business to join Slave-Free Alliance and collaborate towards eradicating slavery.”

Melanie Flogdell, Divisional HR Director at Biffa, said: “Businesses in all sectors are concerned about discovering workers who are victims of modern-day slavery in their supply chains and we want to ensure our staff know what to look for and how to respond. Modern-day slavery is a huge problem in the UK and one that every business has a responsibility to help eliminate. We’re proud to be in alliance with Hope for Justice, and strive to raise awareness, not only across our company and amongst our suppliers, but throughout the waste industry as a whole.”

Jane Mooney, Director at TGBN, said: “When our customers come to us and want to know what we are doing in terms of modern slavery, we have an answer for them.”

Alison Ramsey, head of legal compliance at Pennon Group, which owns South West Water and Viridor, said: “We are working with Slave-Free Alliance to improve our processes.”

A spokesperson at Viridor itself said: “Viridor believes that the expertise and guidance the Slave-Free Alliance can offer will further empower our employees to be ever-vigilant.”

Richard Bean, Head of Risk, Control & Assurance at Electricity North West, said: “We were keen to join Slave-Free Alliance in order to work with other like-minded companies to protect our local communities and those further afield that form part of our supply chain, playing our part in helping to eradicate slavery.”

Tina Parmar, senior contract manager at Severn Trent, said: “We are serious about tackling the issue of modern slavery in our organisation – we want to gain expert advice and work with other collaborators to tackle modern slavery.”

Demi Smoloktou, Responsible Sourcing Professional & PhD Researcher, University of Liverpool (Modern Slavery in Supply Chains), said: “Becoming part of Slave-Free Alliance is giving businesses access to resources and expertise they do not have available in-house. It acts as a firewall to protect operations and supply chains from trafficking and modern slavery.”

Neil Ewing, Managing Director at Orchard Facilities Management, said: “We are looking forward to supporting Slave-Free Alliance by assisting the organisations we work with to identify modern slavery in their supply chains so that they can conduct their businesses in an ethical and responsible way.”

Nick Campling, Director, G7th, The Capo Company, said: “At G7th, we have been trying to raise awareness of this awful crime by putting a comment and a leaflet in with our products. Obviously, we want to be as sure as we can be that there are no slaves involved in in our supply chain. Joining Slave-Free Alliance is a logical step to take.”

Sir Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, now Director of Structural Reform with Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice, said: “Our team have built an evidence base of hundreds of successful interventions, and can provide you with tailored business and supply chain solutions that prevent modern slavery, building your competitive advantage through strengthened public profile, customer confidence and compliance.”

A full list of the Benefits of Membership and the Services on offer can be found at the Slave-Free Alliance website.

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