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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 2018 KnowTheChain benchmarked over 120 global companies across the three sectors.  

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 has ranked 60 of the largest global companies in three high risks sectors on their efforts to address forced labor and human trafficking risks in their supply chains. Each sector benchmark includes individual company scorecards, a findings report and resource and action guide for the sector:

For more information, contact Felicitas Weber at [email protected].

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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... 

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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... 

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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)... 

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26 March 2018

KnowTheChain - Analysis of modern slavery statements in the electronics sector

To mark the third anniversary of the passage of the UK Modern Slavery Act in March 2018, KnowTheChain preport - "Eradicating forced labor in electronics: What do company statements under the UK Modern Slavery Act tell us?" - analysed to what extent the ICT sector is aware of and responding to the UK Modern Slavery Act, the most far-reaching global legislation on forced labour and human trafficking currently in effect.

We identified 102 ICT companies from Asia, Europe, and the United States required to report under the Modern Slavery Act. Most of them were aware of their obligation under this legislation and had published a statement; we reached out to 23 of those companies that had not published a statement.* Eight companies published a statement following our outreach.**

However, compliance with the minimum requirements of the legislation was low. We believe only 18% of the statements (14 out of 79) analysed are compliant with the three minimum requirements of the Act (board approval, director signature, link on homepage). Further, a majority of the companies assessed did not address forced labour risks specific to ICT, even though exploitation of migrant workers through recruitment agencies are well documented in the sector.

Below is a list of ICT companies which the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre believes are required to report under UK Modern Slavery Act, but have not yet published a statement:

  • Axis (Sweden)
  • Broadcom (USA/Singapore)
  • Delta Electronics (Taiwan)
  • Hirose Electric (Japan)
  • Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology (China)***
  • Fanuc Corporation (Japan)
  • MediaTek Inc (Taiwan)
  • Seagate Technology (USA)
  • SK Hynix (South Korea)
  • Stanley Electric Co Ltd (Japan)

* A few companies pointed us to statements published on less obvious places on their websites (i.e., not on the homepage, on in sections such as sustainability or supply chain responsibility). One company responded noting they believe they are not required to report under the legislation. 

** One additional company included a reference to the UK Modern Slavery Act and subsequent actions taken on their website.

***Hikvision have shared a confidential draft commitment with us, which includes a reference to their support of the UK Modern Slavery Act. This document is not yet publicly available. 

15 November 2017

KnowTheChain announces 125 companies to be benchmarked in 2018

KnowTheChain announced the names of the 125 companies with combined assets under management of over USD 6.6 trillion it will be benchmarking  in 2018 on their efforts to address forced labour in their supply chains. KnowTheChain will cover global companies across three sectors: Information Communication & Technology (ICT), Food & Beverage, and Apparel & Footwear. Companies include US retail giants Amazon and Walmart, the French luxury brands LVMH and Hermès, the Asian mega suppliers Li & Fung and Yue Yuen, and the Australian food retailers Woolworths and Wesfarmers/Coles.

KnowTheChain has also published its revised methodology for the ICT sector. The revised methodology includes feedback from stakeholders including previously benchmarked companies, the investor community, and civil society organizations. KnowTheChain intends to update the methodology after each benchmarking series to account for the evolving nature of the field. Changes to the 2018 methodology include the inclusion of forced labour allegations, a stronger focus on corporate action below the first tier of supply chains, and alignment of the worker voices and recruitment themes with leading practices in the field.

Further, KnowTheChain announced it will be joining forces with the Thomson Reuters Foundation to increase the number of companies to be benchmarked over the next three years. Through this partnership these benchmarking efforts will become the KnowTheChain – Stop Slavery Index.

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30 August 2017

Cereal, drinks companies often overlook risk of forced labor in sugarcane: study

Author: Reuters

Food and beverage companies face the risk of forced labor in countries where they obtain sugarcane but most fall short in efforts to tackle the problem that threatens millions of workers, according to a study [by KnowTheChain (KTC)]...Sugarcane...can be found in a list of household foods and beverages...and is often harvested by rural migrant workers with machetes who work long hours for low wages in hazardous conditions...

The companies studied were Coca-Cola Co., Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B de C.V (FEMSA), Monster Beverage Corp., PepsiCo Inc., The Hershey Co., Mondelēz International Inc., Nestlé S.A., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Associated British Foods plc plc (ABF) and Wilmar International Ltd. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and ABF were the only four companies to undertake forced labor risk assessments of sugarcane supply chains in specific countries, the study said.

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29 August 2017

KnowTheChain case study: How food and beverage companies tackle forced labour risks in sugar supply chains

This case study assesses how a sample of 10 chocolate and confectionary manufacturers, beverage companies, and sugar producers address forced labour risks in their sugarcane supply chains.

The study follows KnowTheChain’s first food and beverage benchmark, which found a lack of transparency and adequate action to address forced labor in commodity supply chains such as sugarcane.

Findings include: 

  • Only a small group of companies have assessed risks and set targets to eradicate forced labor in their supply chains, and all companies in the study need to improve. Workers have few ways to air grievances and no company was able to provide a concrete example of remedy provided to workers when wronged.
  • All companies should take concrete follow-up steps at the country level. However, we found steps taken at that level are limited. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and ABF are the only companies making efforts to understand and assess forced labour risks in their sugarcane supply chains at the country level. 
  • All companies disclose where at least some parts of their sugarcane supply chains are located. Coca-Cola discloses a map that highlights all sourcing countries for its key commodities. However, the company did not follow through on its commitment from 2013 to disclose the names of all its direct sugarcane suppliers within three years. Wilmar is the only company that discloses a list with names and addresses of its sugar suppliers.

Additional background on the case study can be found here

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22 June 2017

KnowTheChain case study: How are footwear companies and luxury clothing brands tackling forced labour risks in their leather supply chains?

This case study assesses how a sample of five footwear companies and five luxury clothing brands address forced labour risks across their leather supply chains.

The study follows KnowTheChain’s first apparel and footwear benchmark which found a lack of transparency and action to address forced labor abuses beyond first-tier suppliers, particularly in leather. [...]

Key findings of the case study include:

  • Publicly available information as well as information provided to us revealed very little on how—apart from auditing suppliers—companies address forced labor risks in countries where they produce hides, process leather, and manufacture leather goods. The German sportswear manufacturer Adidas marks the exception: Adidas trained tanneries in Taiwan and China on how to address forced labor risks and is developing multi-stakeholder partnerships to address risks at third-tier leather hide suppliers in Brazil and Paraguay. This contrasts with the complete lack of disclosure from Belle International, China’s largest shoe retailer. [...]
  • Most companies have made commitments to improve supply chain labor conditions. Commitments range from increasing supplier transparency, to undertaking supply chain human rights impact assessments, to developing strategies for social compliance at the tannery level.
  • Most companies in our sample participate in more than one multi-stakeholder or other initiative focused on improving labor standards in apparel supply chains. This is an important opportunity for both the initiatives as well as for member companies to work together to ensure robust forced labor standards and accountability mechanisms are developed and implemented, including for lower tiers of supply chains.

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23 May 2017

KnowTheChain Apparel & Footwear Action Guide on Supply Chain Forced Labour

Following the release of KnowTheChain's apparel & footwear sector benchmark, KnowTheChain has published a guide for the sector with recommended resources and actions to address supply chain forced labour.

The company action guide is broken out into the seven themes by which companies where benchmarked: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. It gives a summary of practices that can be implemented and provides resources for companies to engage deeper on each theme.

The goal of this company action guide is to advance the efforts of not only the companies benchmarked by KnowTheChain, but of the apparel & footwear sector as a whole. The company action guide is best reviewed alongside KnowTheChain’s apparel & footwear benchmark findings report.

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18 April 2017

KnowTheChain report highlights gaps and better practices on worker voice and remedy

Author: KnowTheChain

"Forced Labor Action Compared: Findings from Three Sectors. With recommendations for companies across sectors, business and multi-stakeholder associations, and investors", 18 Apr 2017

In 2016, KnowTheChain ranked 60 companies across three high-risk sectors on their efforts to eradicate forced labor from their global supply chains. Selecting some of the largest companies in information and communications technology (ICT), food and beverage, and apparel and footwear, worth a combined market capitalization of more than US $4 trillion, KnowTheChain produced three benchmarks.

KnowTheChain released an analysis of these benchmarks, including cross-sector comparisons, examples of best practice, and recommendations on common areas where companies can improve.

Some key findings across the three sectors:

  • Average sector scores were below 50/100, indicating significant room for improvement across sectors. 
  • In each sector, one company received a score of 0/100 (Belle International, Monster Beverage, Keyence), indicating a concerning lack of action. 
  • Apparel companies tend to be more advanced in their efforts, while food & beverage companies lag behind. This reflects the level of media attention and civil society pressure companies in each of the sectors have received.

KnowTheChain’s analysis shows that all evaluated companies have a long way to go to truly address the risk of forced labor in their supply chains. Yet, examples of good practice, particularly from the apparel sector, offer models that low scoring companies can follow. Nike and Primark should be commended for their effective methods of worker engagement, and Adidas and H&M demonstrate strong methods of addressing restrictions to freedom of association and trade union engagement. The report highlights findings that can benefit companies regardless of their sector, and makes recommendations for business associations, multi-stakeholder associations and investors on future steps to combat the risks of forced labor.

Read the full post here