Modern Slavery - how ethical is your supply chain?

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act was instrumental in highlighting the issue of forced labour around the world, and the role that UK companies need to play in ensuring goods and services are free of exploitation. Companies with a turnover of £36m are legally required to produce an annual transparency statement, and it is often the responsibility of the company secretary to bring this to their board’s attention.

But with modern supply chains so complex, how can organisations ensure they are robust, stable and ethical? Are subsidiaries willing and able to implement solutions that minimise Western views of forced labour within the constraints of their culture? How do boards manage their extended relationships? Do they give them the attention they deserve? And consider the risks posed to their brands and reputations?

Our panel of senior governance professionals discussed:

  • modern-day slavery from different viewpoints - legal, supply chain governance and human rights
  • the role the company secretary should play in writing up the annual transparency statement
  • how leading organisations are mapping their supply chains, to shift toward public transparency and accountability
  • the need to update the Act and why the UK government should hold organisations accountable for violations at home and abroad

This webinar was facilitated by Colleen Theron, CEO, Ardea International. It included Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen, Chris Harrop OBE, Group Marketing Director & Director of Sustainability, Marshalls plc, Louise Nicholls, Managing Director at Suseco, Vice Chair of IEMA, and Shayne Tyler, Group Compliance Director, Fresca Group.

Chris Harrop OBE, Group Marketing Director & Director of Sustainability, Marshalls plc

Chris Harrop OBE is Director of Sustainability and Marketing at Marshalls plc, the market-leading supplier of hard landscaping products. He is an accomplished marketer with a proven global track record and was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to the prevention of modern slavery and exploitation.

At Marshalls Chris has helped transform the company into a leading sustainable business, winning numerous awards for commitment to the environment and supply chain ethics, including BITC, Business in the Community Awards for Excellence.

Chris is Chairman of the United Nations Global Compact UK Network and is also a Non-Executive Director at the Ethical Trade Initiative.

His qualifications include a BA Hons Business Studies, an MBA, several professional qualifications and is a Chartered Director of the Institute of Directors and a Chartered Marketer of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Louise Nicholls, Managing Director at Suseco, Vice Chair of IEMA

Louise Nicholls is Managing Director of Suseco, advising a broad range of clients from manufacturers to retailers, start-ups, investors and collaborative initiatives on Sustainability and Human rights. She also tutors for Cambridge University Institute of Sustainable Leadership in supply chain and business sustainability management, and with Institute Human Rights and Business and Ethical trading initiative on Human rights. Louise is currently Vice Chair of the professional environmental body, IEMA, and a Trustee of the innovative food redistribution charity, Bread and Butter thing.

Previously she had a long career with the retailer Marks and Spencer plc, initially in food technology and more latterly as Corporate Head of Human Rights, Food sustainability and Food Packaging. With a successful track record of stakeholder engagement in 40+ countries, from individual affected rights holders to win/win partnerships with NGO’s she brings a broad breadth of experience in Social and environmental collaborative initiatives. Including chairing Sedex Global for seven years and holding board positions with the Ethical Trading Initiative, LOCOG Stakeholder Oversight Board, Consumer Goods Forum, and the temporary Labour Working Group (precursor to UK modern slavery regulator GLAA).

Colleen Theron, CEO, Ardea International

Colleen is a tri-qualified solicitor and founder of Ardea International, a specialist company that provides sustainability, business and human rights and modern slavery expertise to enable companies to meet both their legal obligations and develop voluntary best practice standards. She is a fellow of IEMA and a research fellow of the Centre for the Study of Modern Slavery, St Mary’s Twickenham.

She has over 25 years of legal and commercial experience of working with business, organisations and NGOs across sectors on both a strategic and operational level and provides training and online resources to both directors and employees on human rights, modern slavery and sustainability issues.

Colleen has an LLM (with distinction) in Environmental Law from the University of Aberdeen. She sits on the advisory board for LexisPSL Environment, is an independent board member of APSCA disciplinary board for member firms, and was one of the Top 100 Corporate Modern slavery influencers in the UK in 2018.

Shayne Tyler, Group Compliance Director, Fresca Group

A highly experienced practical and hands-on leader fighting modern slavery, Shayne is Group Compliance Director at Fresca Group, a leading fresh produce supplier to retail accounts. He is a supply chain Modern Slavery specialist with over 20 years of first-hand experience of worker exploitation cases and their successful resolution. His passions include ethical leadership and best practice, employee welfare, prevention of labour exploitation and leadership through coaching.

Shayne has directly resolved hundreds of cases affecting thousands of victims, and his extensive networks and systems regularly identify new challenges.

Shayne is a board member of the West Midland Anti-Slavery Network and a proud trustee of the Charity Hope@Home which places survivors after the NRM process. Shayne is also a member of over a dozen other networks and proactively trained and raised awareness for more than 6,000 people outside of his organisation.

His passion for tackling this crime is driven by the hope that one day he will not need to look into the eyes of another victim.

 Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO, Unseen

Andrew Wallis is CEO of anti-slavery organisation Unseen, which provides safe housing and other services for survivors of trafficking, runs the Modern Slavery Helpline, and works with businesses and others in the eradication of slavery. Andrew chaired the landmark Centre for Social Justice report ‘It Happens ere’, widely acknowledged as the catalyst for the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015, which he also advised on the development of. He was awarded an OBE that year. The job has presented him with challenges as diverse as building flat-pack furniture for Unseen’s first safe house, to advising global businesses on how to address slavery in supply chains. He has been described as ‘the loveliest disrupter you could hope to meet.’

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