1. Verify that product supply chains are evaluated and risks of human trafficking and slavery are addressed.
2. Audit suppliers to ensure adherence to company standards.
3. Receive certification by direct suppliers that only materials in compliance with applicable laws regarding slavery and human trafficking are used.
4. Maintain internal accountability standards and corrective action procedures.
5. Train employees on human trafficking and slavery, with a focus on the risks within supply chains.
California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris, published The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act--A Resource Guide (The Guide) this year, which is aimed at helping companies to comply with and meet the spirit of The Act. The Guide is easy to follow and is a welcomed first step towards establishing best practices. It spells out each of the five above requirements with model disclosures for each. Here are some suggestions included in The Guide:
- Make it easy for consumers to find and understand your company’s SB657-related disclosures.
- Be specific and succinct in your disclosure, keeping the consumer focused on what matters most, rather than providing lengthy discussions on secondary or unrelated issues.
- Provide a bit of detail on the nature of your company’s efforts. For example, simply stating that you have a verification protocol is discouraged. When you provide insight into what steps your company is taking under this protocol you enable consumers to better understand how you identify, evaluate and respond to risks in your supply chain.
- Describe how your company prioritizes suppliers to be audited, trains auditors, ensures the auditors’ independence and qualifications, and is working toward continuously improving the audit protocol and program.
- Describe what your company expects of your suppliers to certify that materials used in your company’s products are free of human trafficking and slavery—and how you ensure compliance with these expectations. Include consequences for failing to comply with your expectations or other ways in which suppliers are held accountable.
- Disclose internal procedures to ensure your company’s staff is knowledgeable about the issue, The Act, and internal policies, including reporting violations and whistleblower protections. These procedures could include training content and personnel being trained.
The Resource Guide also specifically identifies supply chain actors, such as labor brokers, who should be included in a company’s program because they can play a direct role in creating a situation where workers are indebted, particularly in the case of migrant workers who agree to pay brokers for opportunities to work.
Lastly, The Guide provides appendices that summarize SB657 (Appendix A) and briefly describe other State and Federal Human Trafficking Laws (Appendix B).
I am glad to see the Attorney General publish this practical Resource Guide, and I look forward to seeing companies taking advantage of the recommendations and examples as they build or improve programs to combat forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains. I hope this is not the last step the Attorney General makes. I would like to see monitoring of the companies’ disclosures and actions as well as similar resource guides for foreign suppliers who may require support to develop and implement effective programs in the middle of the supply chain. We must all work together to drive these and other human rights abuses out of global supply chains.