KnowTheChain, a resource for businesses and investors who need to understand and address forced labor abuses within their supply chains, released a new report this month benchmarking global information and communications technology (ICT) companies’ efforts to eradicate forced labor in the production and manufacturing of their goods. It benchmarks current corporate practices, develops insights, and provides practical resources that inform investor decisions and enable companies to comply with growing legal obligations while operating more transparently and responsibly.
Verité has been collaborating on KnowTheChain with Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), Humanity United, and Sustainalytics. Verité’s role in this collaboration is to provide advice and resources for companies to improve their performance on the areas which Sustainalytics and BHRRC’s research identifies as insufficient.
The Benchmarks Report, recently released by KnowTheChain, evaluates the policies and practices of 20 of the largest ICT companies – including Apple, HP and Canon – on seven themes: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practice; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. The report highlights the best practices within the industry, establishes a baseline of performance to be measured against in the future, and identifies gaps where companies and the industry can improve.
While the benchmark found that the ICT sector is showing some commitment and action, the overall scores make it clear that there is still far more to be done. Of the 20 global ICT companies evaluated in the seven categories, the average score was 39 out of a possible 100 points. Eighteen of the 20 companies have a public commitment to addressing forced labor, showing that they recognize the importance of the issue, but far fewer have the policies and practices in place to do so.
The major area for improvement found in the benchmark is worker voice (average score of 16/100). The ICT sector needs to enable workers at the lowest levels of the supply chain to communicate their concerns and play a meaningful role in realization of their labor rights, including the rights to freedom of association and to bargain collectively. Companies are disclosing too little information on how they ensure that workers throughout their supply chains have access to independent grievance mechanisms and other means of exercising their rights.
KnowtheChain will release two additional benchmark reports in the next year. They will focus on the Food & Beverage and Apparel & Footwear sectors.
For more information about KnowtheChain, and Verité’s role in it, please contact Philip Hunter.