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Revealed Links between Commodities and Labor Abuse in the Global Economy
This year Verité unveiled our updated Forced Labor Commodity Atlas. This redesigned resource currently features 20 commodities and in the coming months, our team will continue will add new pages for all 43 commodities from the report: Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking in Persons in Federal and Corporate Supply Chains: Research on Risk in 43 Commodities Worldwide, which was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Department of State.
Identified Indicators of Forced Labor in the Guatemalan Sugar Sector
This summer Verité released the research report, Risk Analysis of Labor Violations Among Farmworkers in the Guatemalan Sugar Sector: A Report on Findings from Rapid Appraisal Research. This research revealed a high degree of vulnerability to labor trafficking for workers in the Guatemalan sugar sector and found several indicators of human trafficking, including: deceptive recruitment, debt bondage, child labor, inadequate food, surveillance, risks to worker health and safety, and hazardous working conditions. Verité found that workers are subjected to conditions that can have an alarming impact on their long-term health and can be subject to labor abuses from the moment they are recruited.
Built Promising Global Partnerships Across Multiple Supply Chains
In 2017, Verité entered partnerships with Mars, Incorporated and Target. These companies join other companies such as Nestlé, who have engaged Verité to find strategic approaches to compliance across multiple supply chains and focus on cross-cutting issues including recruitment, commodities, grievance mechanisms, audit quality control, and risk management. These relationships with global brands allow Verité to address the worst forms of child labor, forced labor, human trafficking, and other human rights abuses across regions and sectors.
Conducted Field Assessments Worldwide
Over the last year, Verité has conducted assessments in nearly 60 countries and in a variety of sectors, including agriculture, electronics, footwear and apparel, and seafood. Verité offers assessments on such varied topics as comprehensive social responsibility; labor agent screening; corrective action verification; forced labor and human trafficking risk; supply chain risk screening; and worker participation and engagement surveys. These assessments often focus on vulnerable worker populations, such as migrant workers and their children.
Expanded a State of the Art Resource to Combat Trafficking in Global Supply Chains
The U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons contracted Verité to expand and enhance the Responsible Sourcing Tool, an online platform with resources to help federal contractors, acquisitions officers, and businesses identify, prevent, and address human trafficking risks in their global supply chains with information on sectors and commodities at risk for trafficking or trafficking-related activities, as well as 10 risk management tools and a set of seafood sector-specific tools. In the first year of this project, to the site had over 35,000 individual page views, 9,000 sessions, and 3,000 unique users, outperforming all benchmarks for supply chain management websites.
Focused on Key Migration Corridors to the Middle East
Migrant workers are especially vulnerable to recruitment abuses and are often unable to advocate for their rights when they are working far from home. Verité is currently working on two projects with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor exploring migration pipelines from Kenya and India to the Qatar and UAE. These projects promote safe and fair labor migration, ethical recruitment practices, and the rights of migrant workers with a goal of establishing a robust, comprehensive framework protecting migrant workers at every stage of the migration process.
Trained People All Over the Globe
Verité’s solution-oriented training programs are designed to provide practical tools, skills, and knowledge to build controls into everyday business practices. We provide online training and conducted more than 25 in person training sessions in 12 countries this last year.
Promoted Best Practices in Public Reporting on Supply Chain Due Diligence
KnowTheChain (KTC) helps companies and investors to understand and to address forced labor risks within their global supply chains. A project of Humanity United and maintained in partnership with the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Sustainalytics, and Verité, KTC followed up the 2016 release the Information and Communications Technology, Food and Beverage, and Apparel and Footwear benchmarks, with two reports in 2017: the Resource and Action Guide for Food & Beverage Companies and Forced Labor Action Compared: Findings from Three Sectors. In 2018, KTC will benchmark 125 companies from the ICT, Food & Beverage, and Apparel and Footwear sectors using an updated methodology.
Expanded Verité’s Network
This year, we added new staff to Verité’s headquarters office in Massachusetts and our independent regional offices, Verité China and Verité Southeast Asia. We strengthened ties between our long-term network partners Sheva Nari O Shishu Kallyan Kendra from Bangladesh and ASK in India. Verité also added new partners and consultants in places as diverse as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Guatemala, and Ghana.
Implemented Worker Wellbeing Program with the Levi Strauss Foundation
Verité China is working with the Levi Strauss Foundation to implement a program to improve worker wellbeing in China. As a first step, surveys were performed at four Chinese factories and a total of 641 workers were randomly sampled and surveyed. In-depth worker interviews were also conducted which aimed to collect workers’ stories and testimonials related to the workers’ feelings about working at the factory, and their perceptions on how well the factories were doing in the areas of worker wellbeing. This information will be used in 2018 for the next phase of the project to advise factories as they develop their worker wellbeing strategies and measure the impact of these new programs.
Shared Our Expertise and Thought Leadership
During the course of the year, Verité staff participated in conferences, panels, and events including the UN Global Compact 2017 Symposium, AIM Progress Responsible Sourcing Supplier Summit Dubai, and the Innovation Forum. Verité also participates in multistakeholder initiatives and on expert advisory boards such as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the International Recruitment Integrity System Advisory Committee, the Palm Oil Innovation Group, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, the Advisory Committee of the Responsible Labor Initiative of the RBA, and the Seafood Task Force. Verité’s CEO, Shawn MacDonald, was a keynote speaker or panelist at numerous events, including, the Skoll World Forum, the Consumer Goods Forum, Concordia Summit, the International Forum on Business Ethical Conduct for the Aerospace and Defence Industry, and the UN Conference on Business and Human Rights.
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