New business membership scheme, Slave-Free Alliance, launched

Slave-Free Alliance, a membership scheme for businesses that are taking seriously the issue of preventing exploitation in their operations and supply chains, launches today.

With surveys showing that 77% of companies expect to find modern slavery in their operations or supply chains, Slave-Free Alliance was created by global anti-slavery charity Hope for Justice as a simpler way for employers to get the answers and support they need to combat this growing threat.

Slave-Free Alliance is a membership scheme for pioneering businesses who want to protect and enhance their reputations and improve the quality of the products and services they offer by ensuring the workers providing and producing them are not exploited.

Membership also helps employers with meeting their compliance requirements, improving their public image, and acting in an ethical and responsible way towards their workforce.

Ben Cooley, Group CEO of Slave-Free Alliance and Hope for Justice, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to launch this new initiative, Slave-Free Alliance, to help all businesses address modern slavery in their supply chains, offering unique resources and the expertise of our professional teams.

“We have many years of experience in tackling this issue, having dealt with thousands of cases, giving us exceptional insight into the complexity of supply chain exploitation both globally and in the UK.

“As a charity, we have already been working for many years with businesses, from small enterprises to large PLCs, to give them one-to-one support in facing issues within their supply chains. Slave-Free Alliance takes this to the next level.

“We understand that this is a risk area that is not always well-understood and it is particularly hard for even the best businesses to get to grips with. That is why we are providing these easy steps that will work for you whether you are just starting your journey on the way to a slave-free supply chain, or whether you have already begun to take action. Joining Slave-Free Alliance is a simple and entry-level solution to turning your business and supply chain into a fortress that is protected from modern slavery.”

The founding members of Slave-Free Alliance and those in the process of joining are drawn from a wide variety of sectors across the UK economy, including recruitment, finance, construction, insurance, retail, fresh produce, property and utilities.

Among the founding members are Severn Trent, Orchard Facilities Management, Chadwick Lawrence and Electricity North West, whose Head of Risk, Control & Assurance, Richard Bean, said: “We were keen to join Slave-Free Alliance in order to work with other like-minded companies to protect our local communities and those further afield that form part of our supply chain, playing our part in helping to eradicate slavery.

“We hope to work with other members of the Slave-Free Alliance with regards to strengthening supply chain controls to address the risk of slavery, ensuring that we do all we can as a responsible, ethically-run business to back up our publicly stated zero-tolerance towards modern slavery.

“Additionally, we encourage our employees and representatives to speak up should they see or hear things that don’t feel right from a slavery perspective as they go about their daily work, thereby helping to protect our communities from this abhorrent activity. We want to work collaboratively with other companies to change lives and end slavery. We see Slave-Free Alliance as a great opportunity to do this.

Neil Ewing, managing director of Orchard Facilities Management said: “Most businesses will be unaware that modern slavery exists in their supply chain and we will be working hard with the other members of the scheme to raise awareness and eradicate slavery and exploitation in the workforce. We already have an excellent relationship with Hope for Justice and have worked alongside the charity for many years, helping them streamline their operations and minimise costs. We are looking forward to supporting their new initiative by assisting the organisations we work with to identify modern slavery in their supply chains so that they can conduct their businesses in an ethical and responsible way.

Among the companies who do have victims of modern slavery in their supply chains or their own operations, few are complicit themselves. Instead, most are the unwitting victims of the predatory traffickers who seek to exploit businesses by infiltrating their supply chains with exploitative forced labour, for their own profit.

The reputational damage can be severe. But membership of Slave-Free Alliance gives businesses access to the expertise and professional resources to be protected. These resources have been developed by the specialists at Hope for Justice, who have years of experience in protecting businesses from modern slavery.

Slave-Free Alliance membership is open to small, medium and large businesses and organisations from the public and voluntary sectors.

A full list of the Benefits of Membership and the Services on offer can be found at the Slave-Free Alliance website.

All profits made by Slave-Free Alliance will be reinvested into charitable anti-slavery projects.