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Briefing

10 Jan 2023

2022 KnowTheChain ICT Benchmark

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ICT companies’ profits soared during the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite the recent sell-off, the largest global ICT companies have posted a record US$4 trillion in combined annual revenue over the last 12 months, up from about US$3 trillion in 2021. But as the sector has grown, so too has its capacity for labour rights abuses within its vast global supply chains: hard ball purchasing practices encourage a heavy reliance on cheap labour in repressive conditions, creating a breeding ground for exploitation. The historic lack of unionisation in the sector and weakened labour laws further exacerbate worker vulnerability.

The core findings of the latest KnowTheChain ICT benchmark, which analyses the disclosure and performance of 60 of the world’s largest global ICT companies on their efforts to address forced labour in supply chains, bring this into sharp relief, with companies receiving a median score of just 14/100 – revealing abject failure by most to demonstrate sufficient due diligence to identify forced labour risks and impacts in their supply chains, or take adequate steps to address them. But the range of scores within the sector is enormous, with the highest-scoring company, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, receiving 63/100.

The 10th publication in this benchmark series, the 2022 ICT benchmark uses a revised methodology, prioritising the measurement of policy implementation , stakeholder engagement, and remedy outcomes for workers to assess whether companies’ actions to address forced labour risks in their supply chains result in meaningful change for workers. While change is occurring at a glacial pace, after six years, we have seen that benchmarking companies on their processes to address forced labour drives improvement: companies assessed by KnowTheChain since 2016 score higher on average than those newly added to the benchmark.

Key findings include:

  • Companies performed the poorest on Purchasing Practices and Worker Voice. Scoring on average 2/100 and 8/100 respectively.
  • 3 companies (BOE Technology Group, Hikvision and NAURA) provided no relevant information on how they are working to identify and mitigate forced labour risks in their supply chains
  • Nearly half of companies (45%) failed to disclose undertaking human rights risk assessments in their supply chains, and only one in five (22%) disclose forced labour risks identified.

2022 Ranking

Explore the ranking, company scorecards and more

Companies should: 

  • Adopt and disclose responsible purchasing practices: including planning and forecasting, and ring-fencing labour costs. Disclose data points on such purchasing practices to show their implementation.
  • Support collective worker empowerment: actively promote freedom of association and provide evidence of improvements of freedom of association and collective bargaining across supply chain contexts.
  • Adopt a worker-centric approach to due diligence by ensuring workers and other key stakeholders, such as unions and civil society organisations, play a central role in the design, implementation, and monitoring of key due diligence processes, including:
  • risk assessment (including safe engagement with workers affected or potentially affected);
  • grievance mechanisms; and
  • supplier monitoring.
  • Lend public support for the development of mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD) regimes and robust Modern Slavery Acts which explicitly encompass the ICT sector and help level the playing field for company reporting and practice across jurisdictions. Impose penalties for malpractice and seek to improve outcomes for workers in global supply chains.

Want to learn more?

Read the full benchmark findings report

Learn more about the detailed findings of the benchmark including trends in the sector

KnowTheChain Investor Brief

Learn what risks investors are exposed to and read our recommendations for investors

Explore our findings by region, subsector and theme

KnowTheChain’s 2022 ICT benchmark assesses the efforts of 60 of the largest ICT companies to address forced labour in their supply chains. Explore the findings by region, subsector, and theme.