The Australian BUSINESS REVIEW – DAVID SWAN
There are no longer any excuses for Australian businesses to not deal with slavery in their supply chains, according to tech entrepreneur and anti-slavery campaigner Justin Dillon.
Mr Dillon, who is visiting Australia to speak at the Impact Investment Summit in Sydney alongside former foreign minister Julie Minister, told The Australian that two thirds of all large companies have no visibility into their supply chain, which means they have no idea if slavery is contributing to their revenue.
In 2011 Mr Dillon created the online platform Slavery Footprint, partnering with the US State Department and Google to launch a website that asks the question, “How Many Slaves Work For You?.”
The website and mobile app allow consumers to visualise how their consumption habits are connected to modern-day slavery and has reached over 100 million consumers worldwide including over 100,000 in Australia. The executive has also founded supply chain transparency platform FROM, which has supply chains worth $US24 billion on its platform and Australian clients including Suncorp, Konica Minolta and Virgin.
Mr Dillon said new laws in Australia like the Modern Slavery Acts require companies to measure slavery in their supply chains, so they no longer have any excuses to not tackle the issue.
“Companies are being asked to manage their supply chains in a new way. Upstream suppliers can use forced labour and keep it invisible to end consumer, whether that be a business or a consumer,” he told The Australian.
“Just like consumers, businesses now need be informed consumers of what they are purchasing. Modern Slavery Laws require companies to disclose what they are doing in their supply chain. If they view these laws as mere regulatory pressure, then they may face a scrutiny far more punitive than a government slap on the wrist: they will face the kangaroo court of public opinion where there is no barrister to defend you.
“This is not a problem that can be fixed overnight. We help companies measure, monitor, mitigate, and improve by looking beyond just tier one suppliers and identifying slavery deeper in the supply chain.”
Mr Dillon said that forced labour affects over 40 million people globally, and over 100 million people are forced to do hazardous and dangerous work like mining.
He said migrants are particularly vulnerable to forced labour given their economic status and lack of basic human rights.
“Companies who do not leverage supply chain risk analysis technology will find more and more disruptions in their supply chain and increased risk to their reputation,” he said.
“A few years ago I spent time in East India working to build programs for children working in the mica mines of East India. Children as young as three years old climbed into holes with pick axes to scrape out the minerals, that goes on to become the sparkles in our cosmetics. I was struck by how the sparkle dust stuck to the young girls faces due to the sweat pouring off of them. They were literally glowing in the worst way possible.
“I promised myself I would build tools for businesses to connect the dots and end forced and child labour in my lifetime.”