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Modern Slavery in Supply Chains: A Secondary Data Analysis of Detection, Remediation, and Disclosure

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2018
<mark>Journal</mark>Supply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number3
Volume12
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)81-99
Publication statusPublished
Early online date13/04/18
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose: To examine how organisations report on the detection and remediation of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains; and to understand their approaches to disclosing information in response to modern slavery legislation.

Methodology: An analysis of secondary data based on the statements released in response to the 2015 UK Modern Slavery Act by 101 firms in the clothing and textiles sector.

Findings: Many firms use the same practices to detect and remediate modern slavery as for other social issues. But the hidden, criminal nature of modern slavery and the involvement of third party labour agencies mean practices need to either be tailored or other more innovative approaches developed, including in collaboration with traditional and non-traditional actors. Although five broad types of disclosure are identified, there is substantial heterogeneity in the statements. It is posited however that firms will converge on a more homogenous set of responses over time.

Research limitations: The study is limited to one industry, responses to UK legislation, and the
information disclosed by focal firms only. Future research could expand the focus to include other
industries, country contexts, and stakeholders.

Practical implications: Managers must consider how their own firm’s behaviour contributes to the
modern slavery threat, regulate both their stock and non-stock supply chains, and ensure modern slavery is elevated from the procurement function to the boardroom. In making disclosures, managers may trade-off the potential competitive gains of transparency against the threat of information leakage and reputational risk should their statements be falsified. They should also consider what signals their statements send back up the chain to (sub-)suppliers. Findings also have potential policy implications.

Originality: The study expands our understanding of: (i) modern slavery from a supply chain perspective, e.g. identifying the importance of standard setting and risk avoidance; and, (ii) supply chain information disclosure in response to legislative demands. This is the first academic paper to examine the statements produced by organisations in response to the UK Modern Slavery Act.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.