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27 Jun 2016

Bennett Freeman is Former Senior VP, Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Investments and former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, in Responsible Investor

Bennett Freeman: Investors should pay attention to how ICT firms manage forced labour in supply chains

Technology has brought great advances to humanity, and drawn the world closer together. Not least it allows you to read this article on a laptop at work, on a mobile phone on the road, or on a tablet at home. Yet many of the same products that enable you to access just about any information within seconds have—unknown to many users, companies and especially investors—been produced by forced labour. For example, a 2014 Verité study found that nearly a third of workers employed in the production of electronic goods in Malaysia can be considered to be working as forced labour.

The first sector-specific KnowTheChain benchmark provides an unprecedented view of how companies in the ICT sector are addressing the scourge of forced labour. It assesses the publically disclosed efforts of 20 global ICT companies to address those risks in their supply chains. The findings send an important and urgent message: with an average score of 39 out of 100, these companies must do more to address forced labour.