KnowTheChain: Ranking companies' efforts to address forced labour in their supply chains

KnowTheChain is a resource for businesses and investors who need to understand and address forced labor risks within their supply chains.

In 2020/2021 KnowTheChain is benchmarking 180 companies in three sectors. Published in June, the ICT benchmark provides an investor brief, findings report, and company scorecards with company specific recommendations. The food and beverage benchmark will be published in October 2020 and the apparel and footwear benchmark in spring 2021.

In 2019, KnowTheChain published investor briefings on the construction and forestry sectors. In addition, a cross-sector findings report compares findings across the three sectors, in particular on recruitment, worker voice, lower tier due diligence, and performance of Asia based companies. It also includes an appendix with good practice examples for each sector and each indicator of the benchmark methodology.

In 2018 KnowTheChain benchmarked more than 120 global companies across three sectors: the information and communications technology sector, food and beverage sector, and apparel and footwear sector. 

In 2017, KnowTheChain undertook an analysis across the three sectors, reviewed its benchmark methodology, and evaluated to what extent companies address forced labor risks specifically in sugarcane and leather supply chains. 

In 2016, KnowTheChain ranked 60 of the largest global companies in the information and communications technologyfood and beverage sector, and apparel and footwear sectors on their efforts to address forced labor and human trafficking risks in their supply chains. 

For information in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, Japanese, French, Spanish, and German please see our translations page. For more information, contact Felicitas Weber at [email protected].

Get RSS feed of these results

All components of this story

9 June 2020

KnowTheChain: Ranking of 49 ICT companies on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains

Author: KnowTheChain

KnowTheChain evaluated the 49 largest ICT companies globally on their efforts to address forced labor and human trafficking in their supply chains. The results show that: 

• The vast majority of the companies score poorly, with more than three-quarters scoring less than 50%, and with an average score of 30%...

• Recruitment: No one should have to pay for a job. Yet this is the reality faced by low-income workers in electronics supply chains...Thirty-six of the 49 companies (73%) have a policy prohibiting worker-paid recruitment fees in their supply chains...only 13 companies disclose evidence that fees have been repaid to workers, and no company sets out a comprehensive process to prevent workers being charged such fees in the first place.

• Worker the lowest-scoring theme of the benchmark (average 12/100). Every company scored zero on its efforts to ensure supply chain workers are free to organize and collectively bargain for better working conditions...

• Hewlett Packard Enterprise (70/100) tops the benchmark in 2020, closely followed by HP (69/100), Samsung (69/100), Intel (68/100), and Apple (68/100). These five companies all disclose repayment of fees to workers in their supply chains as well as steps to better understand (and thus ultimately prevent) fees from being charged to workers. 

• Companies scoring 10/100 or lower include...Broadcom (10/100)...Infineon Technologies (9/100), and...Hexagon (8/100). The three lowest-scoring companies include Hikvision, and Largan Precision... the only company to score zero.

Read the full post here

13 November 2019

KnowTheChain Investor Snapshot: Forced Labor in Forestry (incl. Paper & Forest Products)

Author: KnowTheChain

KnowTheChain assessed 39 of the largest publicly listed companies in the paper and forestry and home furnishing retail sectors on their efforts to address forced labour risks in their supply chains, based on publicly disclosed information. The findings show a stark lack of action.

Most of the world’s largest forestry companies producing paper or wooden furniture are failing to protect their workers from forced labour:

  • Just 3/39 companies ban suppliers from charging workers recruitment fees, which can lead migrant workers into debt bondage
  • None of the 39 companies disclose engaging with supply chain workers’ groups such as trade unions
  • While 59% of the companies disclose a supplier code of conduct that includes provisions on forced labor, only 5% disclose having a remedy process in place for workers who are found to have been subjected to forced labor or other labor rights abuses.

Responsible investors have a role to play in ensuring that forestry companies are making efforts to eradicate forced labour from their supply chains. This briefing provides investors:

  • Evidence of forced labor in the global forestry sector
  • Questions to ask portfolio companies
  • Red flags in corproate reporting to watch out for

Download the full document here

17 October 2019

KnowTheChain Investor Snapshot: Forced labour in the construction sector

Author: KnowTheChain

KnowTheChain's Investor snapshot on Forced Labor in the Construction Sector highlights why investors should be concerned about forced labour risks in the construction sector, what the sector is doing to address these risks, and what action investors should be taking.

Construction is a rapidly growing sector globally, with China, India, and the United States forecast to be the largest markets by 2030.3 The UN estimates that by 2025, 68% of the world population will live in urban areas, up from 55% today, which will require significant construction efforts. As part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, projects worth more than US$500 billion have been or are being built.

An estimated 7% of the global workforce is employed in the construction sector,6 and the Gulf’s construction sector alone employs around 10 million workers. Responsible
investors have a role to play in ensuring this growth doesn’t increase the risk of workers being forced into exploitation and abuse.


Download the full document here

16 April 2019

KnowTheChain: 2019 cross-sector report highlights progress and gaps in the fight against forced labour

Author: KnowTheChain

"Three Sectors, Three Years Later: Progress and Gaps in the Fight Against Forced Labour"

In 2016, KnowTheChain evaluated 60 companies in three high-risk sectors—information and communications technology (ICT), food and beverage, and apparel and footwear—on their efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains. In 2018, this effort was repeated and expanded to 119 companies. 

KnowTheChain views its role as both providing an evidence-based barometer for assessing corporate practice and as a resource to companies and investors for improved policy and action to address forced labor risks in global supply chains. This report presents findings from KnowTheChain's benchmarks on the progress in corporate efforts to address forced labor in high-risk sectors...and the most severe gaps in action that persist....Section 4 of this report offers recommendations for companies in any sector...The accompanying Excel tool in Appendix 1 offers guidance on how to get started...

KnowTheChain has identified areas where progress has been made but also where corporate practice continues to fall short on addressing forced labor:

• Companies take little action to address exploitative recruitment practices...

• Companies show limited efforts to support and enable supply chain workers to exercise their rights...

• Buyers score higher than their suppliers, even though most buyers require their suppliers to cascade their standards to the next tier...

• Companies based in Asia score lower than those based in Europe and North America across sectors and themes.

Read the full post here

+ 简体中文 - Hide

Author: 了解供应链


“三年后对三种行业的再次评估: 打击强迫劳动的进展与不足”

2016年,「了解供应链」评估了信息和通信技术(ICT)、食品和饮料、服装和鞋履三个高风险行业的60间公司在解决其供应链中强迫劳动问题的表现。 2018年,评估再次进行,并扩大到119间公司。

「了解供应链」把自己的角色定为既是评估企业实践的循证晴雨表,又是公司与投资者应对供应链中强迫劳动问题的资源库。本报告呈现了「了解供应链」基准评估的一些发现,包括涉及高危行业的企业在处理强迫劳 动问题上取得的进展,及存在的最大不足和问题…报告的第 4 章为各个行业的公司提供了一些建议… 附录 1 中 Excel 工具用于指导如何启动相关领域的工作…


  • 公司很少采取措施纠正剥削性的招聘行为

• 公司只采取了有限的措施来支持和促成供应链内的工人行使自身权利

• 买家的得分高于供应商,即使大部分买家要求供应商逐级传达标准。

• 亚洲公司按行业和主题分类的评分都低于欧洲和北美的公司

Download the full document here

+ 繁體中文 - Hide

Author: 了解供應鏈


“三年後對三種行業的再次評估: 打擊強迫勞動的進展與不足”

2016年,「了解供應鏈」評估了信息和通信技術(ICT)、食品和飲料、服裝和鞋履三個高風險行業的60間公司在解決其供應鏈中強迫勞動問題的表現。 2018年,評估再次進行,並擴大到119間公司。

「了解供應鏈」把自己的角色定為既是評估企業實踐的循證晴雨表,又是公司與投資者應對供應鏈中強迫勞動問題的資源庫。本報告呈現了「了解供應鏈」基準評估的一些發現,包括涉及高危行業的企業在處理強迫勞動問題上取得的進展,及存在的最大不足和問題…報告的第4 章為各個行業的公司提供了一些建議… 附錄1 中Excel 工具用於指導如何啟動相關領域的工作…


  • 公司很少採取措施糾正剝削性的招聘行為

• 公司只採取了有限的措施來支持和促成供應鏈內的工人行使自身權利

• 買家的得分高於供應商,即使大部分買家要求供應商逐級傳達標準。

• 亞洲公司按行業和主題分類的評分都低於歐洲和北美的公司

4 February 2019

Investors Commend Top Apparel & Footwear Companies in 2018 KnowtheChain Benchmarking Report on Efforts to Eradicate Forced Labor in Supply Chains

Author: Julie Wokaty, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

28 Janurary, 2019

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, The Church Investors Group, Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, and Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), commend Adidas AG, Lululemon Athletica Inc., Gap Inc., Primark Limited (Associated British Foods Group), Industria de Diseño Textil S.A. and PVH Corp. for their leadership in protecting workers in the apparel and footwear supply chain from forced labor and human trafficking. [The] organizations collectively represent institutional investors with over $450 billion in assets under management.

…KnowTheChain has been publishing benchmarking reports since 2016 across various sectors, assessing companies’ actions to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains based on corporate disclosures.

...As we celebrate US National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, [the organisations] recognize these leading companies for receiving the highest scores in the 2018 KnowTheChain Apparel & Footwear Benchmark Findings Report and for their efforts to eradicate forced labor in their supply chains...Letters of commendation were sent by [the investors] to these top scoring companies for exhibiting best practices…[The investors] will be writing to the companies that scored poorly in this Report urging them to adopt these practices.

Read the full post here

4 December 2018

KnowTheChain: Ranking of 43 apparel and footwear on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains

Author: KnowTheChain

  Read our findings   Compare companies  Explore theme findings

KnowTheChain ranked the top 43 global apparel and footwear companies on how they address forced labour risks in their supply chains. Adidas (92/100) remains the top-scoring company in the benchmark, while Lululemon (89/100) overtook Gap Inc. (75/100) to secure second place. The average benchmark score was low, at 37 out of 100 possible points... 

Read the full post here

1 October 2018

KnowTheChain: Ranking of 38 food and beverage companies on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains

Author: KnowTheChain

 Read our findings   Compare companies  Explore theme findings

KnowTheChain ranked the top 38 global food and beverage companies on how they address forced labour risks in their supply chains. Unilever remains the top-scoring company (69/100), while Kellogg (66/100) overtook both Coca-Cola (62/100) and Nestlé (58/100) to secure the second-highest score. The average benchmark score was 30 out of 100 possible points... 

Read the full post here

15 June 2018

KnowTheChain: Ranking of 40 ICT companies on efforts to address forced labour in supply chains

Author: KnowTheChain

Read our findings   Compare companies  Explore theme findings

KnowTheChain ranked the top 40 global ICT companies—with a combined market capitalization of $4.7 trillion—on how they address forced labor in their supply chains. Intel, the leader of the benchmark, overtook both Apple and HP since 2016. The average benchmark score was 32 out of 100 possible points, with Intel scoring highest (75/100) and Largan Precision scoring lowest (0/100)... 

Read the full post here