FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New study highlights corporate Canada support for supply chain legislation as government launches public consultations
Leading academic, investor and development organizations address the impact of modern slavery and other forms of exploitation in global supply chains
May 23, 2019 – A new study released today finds Canadian companies acknowledge that modern slavery in corporate supply chains is a priority issue which requires action, including through potential legislation. While 76% of respondents believe that supply chain legislation could benefit their company, 88% of companies have experienced challenges gaining internal attention on the issue, according to researchers.
The report, ‘The Straight Goods: Canadian Business insights on Modern Slavery in Supply Chains’ is a collaboration between researchers at the Schulich School of Business’ Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (COERB), the Shareholders Association for Research and Education (SHARE) and World Vision Canada, and is being released as the Government of Canada launches public consultations on potential supply chain legislation.
“We heard from 26 large and mid-sized companies from a wide range of industries and, while our sample does not represent all companies in Canada, it is evident that many companies acknowledge that modern slavery is a relevant and important issue that needs to be addressed,” says Kam Phung, the project’s lead researcher, and Schulich PhD candidate. “Moreover, the majority of the companies that we spoke to believe legislation can be effective and welcome the Government of Canada’s decision to launch consultations on supply chain legislation.”
“This is the first study of its kind in Canada,” says Delaney Greig, Manager of Engagement and Policy, SHARE. “It draws out key insight from Canadian companies to inform the federal government’s consultations on a legislative framework. It also supports responsible investors and companies in having frank conversations about the limits of their current practices and how they can take further action to address child labour, forced labour, and other human rights violations.”
“While a handful of leading Canadian companies are taking steps against modern slavery and other pressing labour and human rights challenges, Canadian legislators have an important role to play in leveling the playing field and spurring further action,” added Simon Lewchuk, Senior Policy Advisor for Child Rights and Protection at World Vision Canada. “The findings from this research demonstrate support for Canadian supply chain legislation that provides companies with the incentives and impetus they need to take meaningful action”
Report Key findings:
- Companies acknowledge that modern slavery is relevant to their supply chains though not all companies pay attention to the same aspects of the issue. The majority of companies surveyed (57%) do not look at modern slavery in isolation, but as part of a broader focus on human rights.
- 88% of companies have experienced challenges gaining internal attention on the issue.
- Although modern slavery most often lurks in the lower tiers of global supply chains, less than 1/3 of companies surveyed (29%) indicated that they are actively looking beyond their first tier of suppliers
- 76% of companies believe that supply chain legislation could benefit their company by driving action to address modern slavery.
- 94% of companies feel positive (65%) or neutral (29%) about the Government of Canada’s announcement to initiate consultation on possible supply chain legislation; only 6% felt negative
- Full report: ‘The Straight Goods: Canadian Business insights on Modern Slavery in Supply Chains’: HERE
- Government of Canada consultations page: HERE
Editor’s note: The term ‘modern slavery’ is not defined in international law, nor does it have a universally agreed upon definition. For the purposes of this report, modern slavery was defined as forced labour (including bonded labour, slavery and human trafficking), and child labour, particularly the worst forms of child labour. Modern slavery is often connected to a range of labour and human rights abuses that urgently need to be addressed in global supply chains.
About SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education)
Since 2000, the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) has built a community of values-driven investors who are committed to amplifying their voices in support of a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy. SHARE is the leading non-profit investor voice on human rights and responsible investment in Canada, representing a growing network of institutional investors with more than $23 billion in assets under management.
For more information, visit www.share.ca or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
Notes for Editors
Interviews available with Delaney Greig, Shareholder Engagement and Policy Manager
Damon van der Linde