Modern Slavery Statements should be a useful tool for businesses, for investors, for consumers and for government. For businesses, they provide a way of planning, monitoring and reporting on their modern slavery due diligence. For investors and consumers, they provide a way of holding businesses to account. For government, they are a way of understanding how effective the Modern Slavery Act has been.
But right now businesses do not know what they are aiming at. Investors and consumers do not know how to consistently assess companies’ performance. Government does not know how effective its legislation has been.
If statements are to be useful, we need to have clear and agreed standards for what they should include and how to measure progress over time. This new framework provides that.
The framework is for any organisation writing a statement – or assessing someone else’s. If you’re producing a statement, whether it’s your first or your fourth, the framework can help you to structure it, decide what information to include, and plan how to develop it year on year. It enables you to benchmark your existing statement(s) and identify strengths and weaknesses to work on.
The framework is for any reporting organisation – whether you’re a big retailer, a small supplier or a public sector body. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to writing a statement, so we have designed the framework to be flexible. It includes high-level principles appropriate for anyone producing a statement, as well as more tailored advice for different groups of organisations.
If you’re analysing a published statement – whether you’re an NGO or an investor – the framework will help you do that. It gives you a structured way to assess the quality of any statement and to compare it to statements from similar organisations. As an investor, you may want to know how well an organisation is addressing modern slavery risk in its supply chains – the framework will help you to interpret their statement to understand what they’re doing well and where there might be gaps or weaknesses.
The framework will also be useful for the government. Without a clear approach to assessing the quality of statements, we cannot measure the effectiveness of s.54 of the Modern Slavery Act. Of course we need to know whether businesses are complying with the law – but that’s not enough. If we cannot measure the quality of the statements being produced then we cannot tell if the law is making a difference. So we hope to see the government drawing on ETI’s new framework in its future guidance on statements.
We want as many organisations as possible to pick up and use this framework – so that when it comes to evaluating statements we are all on the same page. Only then can we move forward together and start to comprehensively address the problem of modern slavery in supply chains across the globe.
Download the new Modern slavery statements evaluation framework