Our fight against modern slavery is hitting the headlines again today, after we won the global Thomson Reuters award last night. We were recognised for engaging our suppliers and partners with modern slavery, and our supply chain management. We also won praise for our Bright Future programme which offers training and paid employment for slavery and trafficking victims. Since Bright Future launched almost a year ago, 30 people have either completed or are going through the programme.
As well as the practical help we’re offering survivors, we’re also campaigning – we’re supporting Lord McColl’s bill to extend protection for modern slavery survivors from 45 days to a year. We’re also working with our partners, suppliers and the media to raise awareness of the horror of modern slavery, and help those that work with us to spot signs of slavery and raise standards in their own supply chains.
The Stop Slavery award is a prestigious one, as it gives members and shoppers the confidence that we’re doing everything we can to stamp out slavery. We were one of four winners alongside Adidas, Intel and C&A. Others shortlisted include M&S, Barclays and Aviva.
I was at the awards with Pippa Wicks, our Deputy CEO who accepted the award, telling the audience: “We want to go further than our own supply chains in tackling modern slavery.”
No quick fixes in the fight against slavery
Modern Slavery’s getting a lot of attention from the media and the government right now, as it was estimated that around 25 million people globally were trapped in forced labour in 2016.
Sadly, there are no quick fixes, as with any criminal activity it’s underground, hidden and victims are intimidated into silence. But by working together with law enforcement, other retailers and suppliers, charities and the media we can help stamp out this shameful crime as well as help the survivors.
Our Co-op’s in this fight for the long haul, and it’s a group-wide effort as everyone has a part to play. Our colleagues are most likely to spot the signs someone in their team is in slavery; our finance, audit and procurement teams make sure those we work with have our own high standards, and our communications and campaigns teams keep slavery on the public and media agenda. This award belongs to us all, so thank you and congratulations.
Group Policy and Campaigns Director