The Global Slavery Index has estimated there are 45.8 million people across 167 countries in modern slavery. Contributor Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director of Sustainable Products – BRE.
The UK Government has estimated there are around 13,000 people in modern slavery in Britain today. In 2015, over 3,000 people, including nearly 1,000 children, were referred to British authorities as potential victims of slavery. Prime Minister Theresa May has called modern slavery “the great human rights issue of our time”.
The inaugural 2018 Annual UK Top100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers’ Index, developed and delivered by BRE and Sustain Worldwide, recognises individuals from all business sectors, media and academia who are influence leaders in raising awareness to end modern slavery and labour exploitation; those who advocate for robust ethical sourcing and human rights recognition and practices in UK direct business operations and global supply chains.
Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director of Sustainable Products at BRE, says: “Modern slavery has been described as a crime that is hidden in plain sight. Every day, in Britain’s towns and cities, across construction sites, factories, retail parks, high street shops, car wash forecourts and agricultural fields and shorelines, people are held against their will, exploited and trafficked. Criminal gangs are at the heart of modern slavery, using people as commodities to rack up profits and consign millions to modern day slavery.
“The ILO estimates modern slavery is a $150billion worldwide industry. Often unwittingly, due to a lack of awareness of who is working in their global supply chains, most organisations and companies in the UK are at risk of having modern slavery in their business. The 2018 Annual UK Top100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers’ Index is one weapon in the armoury to raise awareness to end modern slavery and labour exploitation, and to recognise those who are influencing the debate.”
Dr Ghumra has been at the forefront of the UK construction sector’s response to modern slavery. In spring 2017, the BRE catalysed a coalition that developed the Modern Slavery & the UK Construction Sector Industry Charter. Signatories to the charter, which include CIOB, CIPS, IEMA, RIBA and RICS, commit to seek opportunities to uphold, preserve and promote the right of freedom in the UK’s construction industry.
Later in the year, Dr Ghumra led the develop of the GLAA Construction Protocol, which was signed on 11 October 2017. The protocol provides a framework for the GLAA and the construction sector to enter a dialogue on labour exploitation. He also delivered the Ethical Labour Standard (ELS), published by BRE in February 2017, which supports business to meet its human rights challenges. The ELS provides a framework for verifying ethical labour sourcing, and a route for companies working across all sectors and geographies to verify their systems and services.
The Top100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers will be recognised at a black tie dinner, on 26 September, to be hosted by Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE. The Baroness is a champion of human rights, and has introduced a Bill before Parliament that proposes public authorities are included in requirements under Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (transparency in supply chains). Presently, the private sector alone is required to comply.
During the Recognition dinner, the rankings of the 2018 Top100 Influencers will be revealed, culminating in one person being prestigiously recognised as the 2018 Annual UK Top1 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencer. Each of the top five recognised will be invited to give a short speech detailing their influence to date and setting out what they will do next to expose and eradicate modern slavery and labour exploitation in UK direct business operations and global supply chains.
The 2018 Annual UK Top100 Corporate Modern Slavery Influencers’ Index is based on the combination of influence on social media, as measured by Klout scores, and advocacy – policy input, speaking and media engagement – in public life, which is aggregated via a proprietary algorithm. A panel that is independent of business will verify the index’s transparency, robustness and independence.
The 2018 UK Top100 Index is complemented by the third annual Modern Slavery and Ethical Labour in Construction Leadership Symposium. The Symposium draws together the corporate leaders, professional institutions and membership associations, and public and third sector advocates who are driving the agenda to raise awareness of modern slavery and labour exploitation in the UK and global supply chains.
The 2018 Symposium supporters and notable speakers, confirmed to date, include Baroness Young of Hornsey OBE; Mark Heath, Head of Business Change and Development, GLAA; Chris Blythe OBE, CEO of CIOB; Paul Gerrard, Policy & Campaigns Director at The Co-op; representation from CIPS, IEMA, Royal Institute of Architecture (RIBA), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), Supply Chain Sustainability School as well as from companies including Marshalls, Sir Robert McAlpine and others. The third annual Modern Slavery and Ethical Labour in Construction Leadership Symposium Eadicating Modern Slavery: How Good Governance Demonstrates Leadership and Mitigates Risk’ will take place in Central London on 27 September 2018,