Slave-Free Alliance reaches 100-member milestone

Slave-Free Alliance is celebrating its rapid growth to 100 member organisations, who are committed to protecting their operations, supply chains and people from modern slavery and labour exploitation.

Slave-Free Alliance (SFA) was set up in the UK in 2018 to help organisations build their resilience to this growing crime and has now expanded its work to the US, Norway and Australia. SFA has a track record of providing long-term and tailored support to organisations of all sizes, including 14 FTSE100 companies. Members span sectors including retail, recruitment, hospitality, construction, utilities, environment, transport, waste and recycling, marketing and more.

Marc Stanton, Slave-Free Alliance Director, said: “I joined Slave-Free Alliance as Director in 2019, having been shocked at the scale of modern slavery in supply chains. Modern slavery and labour exploitation can have a significant impact not just on people, but on organisations, their reputation and the communities they operate in. Acting as a critical friend, we are now one of the world’s leading partners for organisations who want to identify, understand and prevent modern slavery within their supply chains.”

About our 100th member

Global investment manager Schroders has become the 100th member to join SFA. Schroders invests around the world on behalf of individual clients as well as those who invest through businesses or financial advisers. The FTSE100 asset manager also serves the investment needs of institutions such as insurance firms, pension funds and charities.

SFA is working with Schroders to enhance and improve their processes around addressing modern slavery in their operations and supply chain. We will be focusing on embedding modern slavery awareness and due diligence into business practice with the responsible investor.

Madeleine Cobb, Global Head of Corporate Sustainability at Schroders, said: “We chose to partner with Slave-Free Alliance due to their extensive and diverse practical experience in dealing with modern slavery issues around the world. As a global organisation, it is important we have a considered and thorough approach. We look forward to working closely with SFA over the coming years to improve how we assess and manage these complex and multi-dimensional issues”.

Who were the original member organisations of SFA?

Founding members of SFA include Severn Trent, Currys, Electricity North West, Smart Solutions and Aviva. They have all renewed their membership with us and have all been partners with us for more than four years.

With an increasing legislative focus and global awareness about the complex issue of modern slavery, more organisations have decided to join SFA. Our members now form a community that is working together and sharing experiences.

SFA’s impact

Participating organisations benefit from training, consultancy services, webinars and seminars as part of the membership programme. We help organisations to embed anti-slavery initiatives into their day-to-day operations and wider strategy. Last year, SFA trained more than 1,800 professionals on modern slavery and labour exploitation, what it can look like in their sector and what they can do in their roles to address risks and issues. Our impact is far-reaching, with the 100 member organisations having a combined workforce of more than 1.5 million. This is of huge significance when considering that there are an estimated 49.6 million people trapped in modern slavery around the world. We are reaching hundreds of thousands of people – those directly employed by our members as well as millions more in their supply chains.

This year, members had the opportunity to attend the first full-day SFA Members’ Seminar since the pandemic, to share insights on how they are taking steps to mitigate the risks of modern slavery.

There were 120 people representing 65 organisations at the seminar, who heard from leading voices in the anti-slavery movement.

Another highlight of 2022 was Anti-Slavery Week, during which SFA ran a packed programme on modern slavery and the ‘S’in the ESG agenda, including a webinar with Gartner’s Koray Köse on supply chain visibility and management; hosted a fundraiser for Hope for Justice; and shared digital graphics and videos to assist organisations to engage colleagues and other stakeholders about addressing modern slavery.

Why join SFA?

One survey of business leaders showed that 77% of them expect to find modern slavery somewhere in their supply chain. One of the reasons why organisations choose to join SFA is because they have identified exploitation in their organisation or supply chains and are looking for expert support to respond. Businesses often choose to extend their membership to receive ongoing specialist input in their anti-slavery programme developments.

Lucy Darler, Supply Chain Sustainability Specialist at Severn Trent, describes SFA as “an independent sounding board and expert guide to compliance and best practice”.

The following case studies highlight the difference that organisations have made as a result of joining SFA:

London-based fashion brand River Island joined SFA this year as our 95th member. River Island partnered with SFA for support with embedding its established social sustainability programme into its Goods Not for Resale operations and supply chain processes with a key focus on the risks of modern slavery.

We started this initiative with a gap analysis across the whole business, through which SFA and River Island staff from key departments discussed the risks of modern slavery and labour exploitation. The session provided detailed insight into their working practices and current initiatives, whilst also identifying what can be implemented to support with building resilience to the risks of modern slavery throughout the business.

SSE also joined SFA this year as our 90th member. Slave-Free Alliance’s partnership with SSE originally began through working together in Utilities Against Slavery, a collaborative group SFA has facilitated since 2020. Recently, SSE joined our membership programme for one-to-one support for putting its ESG agenda into action. A key project was carrying out a Human Rights Risk Assessment and engagement work with prospective suppliers for the procurement and construction of a solar energy farm, which is a key component of the organisation’s Net Zero ambitions.

Earlier this year, Kingfisher (owner of brands including B&Q and Screwfix) used some of their membership consultancy hours on supplier engagement following the invasion of Ukraine. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights state that businesses have a duty to respect human rights. Slave-Free Alliance supported Kingfisher with drafting supplier guidance, which included an overview on the current situation, the risks, indicators, requirements for suppliers and extra resources and support. Kingfisher used this information to brief their internal teams and those who work directly with suppliers. Mofẹ́ Lépé, Human Rights Manager at Kingfisher, said: “SFA continue to support us on our Modern Slavery e-learning module which we are due to launch before the end of the year as pilot for our Supply & Logistic teams.”

We’d like to say thank you!

We are incredibly proud of all the hard work of our members, clients, staff and supporters. It’s by working together that we can build real resilience in operations and supply chains to reduce the threat of modern slavery and labour exploitation existing.

Marc Stanton, Slave-Free Alliance Director, said: “I’m extremely proud not only of the SFA’s growth, but the range of innovative support we are now able to give organisations, from Modern Slavery Awareness Training, to Gap Analysis to identify areas for improvement, to technology solutions like SC3, which provide automated analysis and information for an organisation to quickly take action. I hope this is just the start of many major milestones that SFA will achieve and I look forward to welcoming our next 100 members.”

How SFA is connected to Hope for Justice

SFA is wholly owned by the global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice, with all of its profits reinvested in anti-trafficking projects around the world.

Slave-Free Alliance is a critical component of Hope for Justice, working with organisations of all sizes and in every sector to enable them to prevent exploitation, mature their anti-slavery and labour exploitation programmes and rescue and support victims if they are found. Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice work closely to exchange know-how to benefit the organisations and people they serve.

Tim Nelson, CEO of Hope for Justice, said: “Reaching 100 members is an incredible achievement for Slave-Free Alliance. But this isn’t just a big milestone for us; it’s also important for SFA’s members, who have helped develop common approaches to prevent this terrible crime across their industries. They have been doing this in particular through our Collaborative Groups, which include both members and non-members. Thank you for helping us to adapt to the evolving practices of modern slavery.

“I want to say a huge thank you to each of SFA’s 100 members. All profits from Slave-Free Alliance are invested back into Hope for Justice and your work in this space and sharing your experiences, knowledge and practices with SFA ultimately helps us to prevent exploitation, rescue victims, restore lives and reform society.”

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