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Article
Publication date: 24 February 2020

Anthony Flynn and Helen Walker

Drawing on statements made under the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act, this paper aims to examine how firms are responding to modern

Abstract

Purpose

Drawing on statements made under the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act, this paper aims to examine how firms are responding to modern slavery risks in their supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an institutional theory lens, a content analysis of modern slavery statements by financial times stock exchange (FTSE) firms is carried out. The analysis focusses on sources of modern slavery institutional pressure and changes that firms have made in their structures, policies and practices in response to modern slavery risks.

Findings

Three sources of institutional pressure are inferred from modern slavery statements: international human rights accords (coercive), multi-stakeholder initiatives (mimetic) and professional standards (normative). Changes made by firms in direct response to modern slavery include adopting new policies, strengthening contract terms, establishing working/steering groups and creating new key performance indicators. FTSE 100 firms have been more proactive than FTSE 250 firms in making these changes, as have firms in higher risk industries.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis covers FTSE firms only. Responses to modern slavery risks by non-FTSE firms deserve attention.

Practical implications

The UK Modern Slavery Act relies on non-government organisations and consumers to hold firms to account over modern slavery. Policymakers should be aware that while this strategy might work with high profile firms, it is less applicable to firms that operate below the public radar.

Originality/value

The paper shows that institutional theory has validity for explaining corporate responses to modern slavery risks.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 33 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 27 July 2018

Amy V. Benstead, Linda C. Hendry and Mark Stevenson

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how horizontal collaboration aids organisations in responding to modern slavery legislation and in gaining a socially…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how horizontal collaboration aids organisations in responding to modern slavery legislation and in gaining a socially sustainable competitive advantage.

Design/methodology/approach

Action research has been conducted in the textiles and fashion industry and a relational perspective adopted to interpret five collaborative initiatives taken to tackle modern slavery (e.g. joint training and supplier audits). The primary engagement has been with a multi-billion pound turnover company and its collaborations with 35 brands/retailers. A non-government organisation and a trade body have also participated.

Findings

Successful horizontal collaboration is dependent on both relational capital and effective (formal and informal) governance mechanisms. In collaborating, firms have generated relational rents and reduced costs creating a socially sustainable competitive advantage, as suggested by the relational perspective. Yet, limits to horizontal collaboration also exist.

Research limitations/implications

The focus is on one industry only, hence there is scope to extend the study to other industries or forms of collaboration taking place across industries.

Practical implications

Successful horizontal collaborative relationships rely on actors having a similar mindset and being able to decouple the commercial and sustainability agendas, especially when direct competitors are involved. Further, working with non-business actors can facilitate collaboration and provide knowledge and resources important for overcoming the uncertainty that is manifest when responding to new legislation.

Social implications

Social sustainability improvements aim to enhance ethical trade and benefit vulnerable workers.

Originality/value

Prior literature has focussed on vertical collaboration with few prior studies of horizontal collaboration, particularly in a socially sustainable supply chain context. Moreover, there has been limited research into modern slavery from a supply chain perspective. Both successful and unsuccessful initiatives are studied, providing insights into (in)effective collaboration.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 38 no. 12
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 26 April 2019

Katherine Leanne Christ, Kathyayini Kathy Rao and Roger Leonard Burritt

Given the impending introduction of legislation requiring large Australian listed companies to make supply chain disclosures about modern slavery, the paper aims to reveal…

Abstract

Purpose

Given the impending introduction of legislation requiring large Australian listed companies to make supply chain disclosures about modern slavery, the paper aims to reveal current voluntary practice. The purpose of this paper is to provide a benchmark for assessing the current engagement of large companies with modern slavery in Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

Institutional theory provides the foundation for assessing current voluntary practice in relation to modern slavery disclosures by large Australian listed companies. Content analysis is used to identify quantity and quality of modern slavery disclosures of the top 100 companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The contents of annual and standalone reports available on websites, as well as other online disclosures, are examined using terms associated with modern slavery identified from the literature.

Findings

Evidence gathered about modern slavery disclosures by ASX 100 companies shows information in annual and standalone reports reveal far less than other disclosures on company websites. Overall, the volume and quality of disclosures are low and, where made, narrative. A wide range of themes on modern slavery are disclosed with bribery and corruption and human rights issues dominant. Although currently in line with institutional theory, as there appear to be mimetic processes encouraging disclosure, results support the idea that legislation is needed to encourage further engagement.

Research limitations/implications

The paper provides a baseline of understanding about the volume and quality of modern slavery disclosures as a foundation for future research into the practices of Australian companies prior to the signalled introduction of legislation mandating reporting. It also identifies potential lines of research. The sample only examines large Australian listed companies which restricts generalisation from the results.

Originality/value

This is the first academic research paper to examine quantity and quality of modern slavery disclosures of large Australian companies. Results add support for the introduction of legislation by government.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2021

Katherine Leanne Christ and Roger Leonard Burritt

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affects corporate modern slavery accounting, auditing and accountability, and…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic affects corporate modern slavery accounting, auditing and accountability, and how a business can take advantage of this situation to ensure a more robust and effective modern slavery response in the long-term.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on recent literature and available statistics about modern slavery in the context of COVID-19 comment is provided on the challenges and opportunities for researchers and business.

Findings

Given the additional invisibility of modern slavery in a COVID-19 environment as victims move into unemployment and back into vulnerable positions where they are exploited the challenge is how accounting, auditing and accountability can help business break this cycle. Capabilities for business to track and trace victims of modern slavery will be reduced because of the pandemic. Opportunities exist for gathering data and building internal awareness about the problem of modern slavery in supply chains and to reassess operational risk and investment in modern slavery reduction. With the pause in external reporting opportunity exists to obtain views of external stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

Because of the relatively short period of the COVID-19 pandemic to date, numeric data on impacts are largely unavailable.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to consider the challenges and opportunities of COVID-19 on accounting for modern slavery in business. Directions for future research are also considered.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 10 February 2021

Joanne Meehan and Bruce D. Pinnington

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether firms' transparency in supply chain (TISC) statements indicate that substantive action is being taken on modern slavery in…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to assess whether firms' transparency in supply chain (TISC) statements indicate that substantive action is being taken on modern slavery in UK government supply chains.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyse 66 of the UK government's strategic suppliers' TISC statements and 20 key documents related to the policy intent of the UK Parliament, 2015 TISC requirements. Qualitative document analysis identifies what suppliers say they are doing and what they are not saying to provide novel insights into how firms employ ambiguity to avoid timely action on modern slavery in their supply chains A set of propositions are developed.

Findings

The authors elaborate the concepts of time and change in socially sustainable supply chains and illustrate how firms use ambiguity in TISC statements as a highly strategic form of action to defend the status quo, reduce accountability and delay action for modern slavery within supply chains. The authors identify three ambiguous techniques: defensive reassurance, transfer responsibility and scope reduction that deviate from the policy intention of collaborative action.

Social implications

The results illustrates how ambiguity is preventing firms from taking collaborative action to tackle modern slavery in their supply chains. The lack of action as a result of ambiguity protects firms, rather than potential victims of modern slavery.

Originality/value

Prior research focuses on technical compliance rather than the content of firms' TISC statements. This qualitative study provides novel insights into the policy-resistant effects of ambiguity and highlights the dynamic and instrumental role of modern slavery reporting. Theoretically, we identify accountability as an essential concept to address the causes of modern slavery in supply chains and for developing collaborative supply chain environments to tackle the issues.

Details

International Journal of Operations & Production Management, vol. 41 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-3577

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Article
Publication date: 3 October 2019

Anthony Flynn

This paper aims to investigate the determinants of corporate compliance with the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act. While recent…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate the determinants of corporate compliance with the transparency in supply chains provision of the UK Modern Slavery Act. While recent scholarship has described what firms are doing to comply with this Act, no attempt has been made to explain their behaviour.

Design/methodology/approach

A predictive model of corporate compliance with modern slavery reporting is tested using secondary data from Financial Times Stock Exchange 350 firms. The model is informed by institutional theory and, in particular, by Oliver’s (1991) insights into the conditions under, which firms respond to institutional pressures.

Findings

Compliance with modern slavery reporting is found to be significantly related to firm size, prior social responsibility commitment, network involvement, industry and headquarter base (UK versus non-UK). Other predictors such as media exposure, shareholder concentration and profitability are found to be non-significant.

Research limitations/implications

The focus is on the 350 largest publicly listed companies in the UK. The stances that firms outside of this cohort are taking on modern slavery reporting still need to be investigated.

Practical implications

Compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act varies by industry. Regulators should consider this as a part of risk profiling strategies and follow-up inspection of firms.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first theoretically grounded examination of the organisational and environmental factors that determine corporate compliance with modern slavery reporting.

Details

Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-8546

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Article
Publication date: 28 July 2020

Katherine Leanne Christ, Roger Leonard Burritt and Stefan Schaltegger

With the initial focus on the extreme end of the work conditions continuum where, in the last decade, legislation has been introduced to combat illegal and illegitimate…

Abstract

Purpose

With the initial focus on the extreme end of the work conditions continuum where, in the last decade, legislation has been introduced to combat illegal and illegitimate practices, this issue's lead paper provides an overview on key topics of extreme work conditions of modern slavery and accounting. The paper introduces the Special Issue on “Accounting for modern slavery, employees and work conditions in business” and its selected papers.

Design/methodology/approach

The method adopted is a wide-ranging literature review exploring the continuum of work conditions and their relationship to accounting, especially extreme exploitation of workers through modern slavery.

Findings

Employment and workplace conditions and practices in business can be viewed as a continuum ranging from the illegal and illegitimate practices of modern slavery, through unethical and often illegal practices such as wages theft, to decent work. Given this continuum, in this Special Issue avenues are identified for accounting research to provide an account of the effectiveness of actions taken to eliminate modern slavery and overcome grey areas of work conditions.

Practical implications

The paper helps to create an improved understanding of different types of exploitation in work conditions in different industries and the role accounting might play in research and practice.

Social implications

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Instead, it changed its forms and continues to harm people in every country in the world especially in certain industries, of which several are discussed and accounting advice proffered. Likewise, as reflected in Special Issue papers, the role of accounting in reducing less extreme forms of poor work conditions is also considered.

Originality/value

The paper provides an overview of different forms and degrees of exploitation in work conditions and identifies the need for and areas of accounting research in this emerging area.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 28 January 2020

Ehi Eric Esoimeme

This paper aims to critically examine the modern slavery statements of Anglo American Plc. and Marks and Spencer Group Plc. to determine the level of effectiveness of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to critically examine the modern slavery statements of Anglo American Plc. and Marks and Spencer Group Plc. to determine the level of effectiveness of the risk assessment and risk mitigation measures of both companies and provide recommendations on how the risk assessment and risk mitigation measures of both companies could be strengthened.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis took the form of a desk study, which analysed various documents and reports such as the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Transparency in Supply Chains) Regulations 2015, the UK Guidance issued under Section 54(9) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the 2018 Global Slavery Index, funded by Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation, the Anglo American Plc. Modern Slavery Statement of 2017/18, the Marks and Spencer Modern Slavery Statement of 2017/18, the Financial Action Task Force Guidance on the Risk Based Approach to Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (High Level Principles and Procedures) 2007, the Financial Action Task Force International Standards On Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation (The FATF Recommendations) 2012, the Australia Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007 (No. 1) (as amended), the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada Guidance on the risk-based approach to combatting money laundering and terrorist financing 2017 and the Central Bank of Nigeria (Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism in Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria) Regulations, 2013.

Findings

This paper determined that the standard due diligence measures and the enhanced due diligence measures of Anglo American Plc. are not effective enough to identify/assess the risk(s) of modern slavery in the supply chains reason being that Anglo American Plc. does not use diverse methods/methodologies for her due diligence programme. This paper, however, determined that the standard due diligence measures and the enhanced due diligence measures of Marks and Spencer Group Plc. are effective enough to identify/assess the risk(s) of modern slavery in the supply chains because Marks and Spencer adopts diverse methods/methodologies for her due diligence programme. This paper also determined that both Anglo American Plc. and Marks and Spencer Group Plc. adopt diverse methods for the monitoring of their corrective action plans which are designed to mitigate the modern slavery risk(s) associated with high-risk suppliers. For example, Anglo American Plc. monitors anti-modern slavery compliance with the use of both internal Anglo American teams and third-party auditors to ensure that the identified issues are adequately addressed.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Modern Slavery Statements of Anglo American Plc. and Marks and Spencer Group Plc for the year 2017/18.

Originality/value

Several articles have been published on this topic. Among them, is an article by Stefan Gold, Alexander Trautrims and Zoe Trodd titled “Modern slavery challenges to supply chain management”, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 20 Issue: 5, pp.485-494 and an article by Stephen John New titled “Modern slavery and the supply chain: the limits of corporate social responsibility?”, Supply Chain Management: An International Journal, Vol. 20 Issue: 6, pp.697-707. The article by Stefan Gold, Alexander Trautrims and Zoe Trodd drew attention to the challenges modern slavery poses to supply chain management. Although the article briefly talked about the risk-based approach to monitoring supply chains for slavery, it did not discuss about the due diligence measures that UK firms are required to apply during risk identification and risk assessment, and the risk mitigation measures that will address the risk(s) that have been identified. The article by Stephen John New examines legal attempts to encourage supply chain transparency and the use of corporate social responsibility methods. Though the article mentions the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, more attention was paid to the California Transparency in Supply Chains Act [S.B. 657], State of California, 2010), enacted in 2011 and in effect from 2012. The article analysed the California Act without critically discussing the risk assessment procedures for UK companies. In addition to discussing the different stages of the risk assessment/risk management process, this paper will examine the modern slavery statements of Anglo American Plc. and Marks and Spencer Group Plc. This paper will provide recommendations on how the risk assessment/risk mitigation measures of both companies could be strengthened. This is the only paper to adopt this kind of approach. The analysis/recommendations in this paper will help UK companies to design effective due diligence procedures for their supply chain.

Details

Journal of Financial Crime, vol. 27 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1359-0790

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Article
Publication date: 13 February 2017

Gary Craig and Stephen Clay

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act focusses attention forms of modern slavery (human trafficking and forced labour), within the UK. The contemporaneous 2014 Care Act, identifies…

Abstract

Purpose

The 2015 Modern Slavery Act focusses attention forms of modern slavery (human trafficking and forced labour), within the UK. The contemporaneous 2014 Care Act, identifies modern slavery as a new form of risk within adult social care, listing forms of abuse and vulnerability. However, it does not consider whether those providing care may themselves be vulnerable to forms of modern slavery. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors describe the history of the development of modern slavery legislation in the UK, outline key provisions of the Care Act, illustrated with real-life cases. The analysis suggests that adult social care – characterised by informality, fragmentation and vulnerability – is one where instances of modern slavery may be more common than considered to date.

Findings

The data collected, though relatively modest, suggests that a thorough investigation should be undertaken into the possibility of modern slavery taking place within the realm of adult social care.

Research limitations/implications

Data have been collected through a snowball process, rolling out a survey to relevant groups of individual and organisations. A more rigorous investigation is required to examine the extent of modern slavery within adult social care.

Practical implications

The training of those responsible for the regulation/management of adult social care needs to ensure that they are fully equipped to understand the nature of modern slavery and how to identify its symptoms and victims.

Social implications

There is also a need for heightened awareness of those close to people being cared for that they may also identify the symptoms of modern slavery.

Originality/value

This area has not been explored to date.

Details

The Journal of Adult Protection, vol. 19 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1466-8203

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Article
Publication date: 11 September 2018

Christina Stringer and Snejina Michailova

Modern slavery, one of the most abhorrent crimes against humanity, is a profitable international business (IB). It often operates in a hidden form in the global value…

Abstract

Purpose

Modern slavery, one of the most abhorrent crimes against humanity, is a profitable international business (IB). It often operates in a hidden form in the global value chains (GVCs) governed by multinational corporations (MNCs). The purpose of this paper is to examine why slavery exists in GVCs and what this means for MNCs.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper borrows insights from the GVC literature to conceptually link MNCs and modern slavery. Different from the IB literature that predominantly focusses on the MNC as a single firm, the paper emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the MNC value chains and their complexity and fragmentation.

Findings

Three factors which help explain modern slavery in GVCs are examined: the complexity of GVCs and the challenges this poses to their governance, the business case for slavery and the conditions that enable modern slavery. These factors, taken together, provide an explanation why modern slavery can creep into, persist and thrive in MNCs’ GVCs.

Research limitations/implications

The argument is put forward for the need for IB scholars to borrow from the GVC literature to help understand why slavery can exist in the GVCs of MNCs. This opens the opportunity for examining the MNC in ways not considered by IB scholars so far.

Originality/value

The paper addresses an issue long ignored in IB research and issues a call for IB scholars to study MNCs in a new way, namely, linking MNCs’ activities with modern slavery.

Details

Multinational Business Review, vol. 26 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1525-383X

Keywords

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