Sedex (Supplier Ethical Data Exchange) is launching new technology tools to help businesses assess whether there is a risk of forced labour in their supply chains.
The new forced labour indicator utilises data to highlight indications of possible forced labour for companies with a Sedex membership.
The tools audit sites within a supply chain to identify practises commonly associated with human rights violations such as retention of workers’ identity documents, excessive overtime, deception and restriction of movement.
The number of potential indicators are then used to calculate a risk score out of 10 and then a formal investigation must be carried out.
The tech also includes a ‘Forced Labour Risk Index’, developed by Ergon, to assess four economic sectors (agriculture, food processing, manufacturing and logistics) within 248 countries.
The International Labour Organization estimates 24.9 million victims of forced labour globally, with women and girls making up 58 per cent.
“Forced labour is extremely difficult to identify, but data is our ally here,” Sedex chief executive Simon McCalla said.
“Forced Labour Indicators tool is valuable in helping businesses with this challenging task, enabling them to prioritise taking action where the risks of forced labour are highest.”
There has been increased caution over alleged human rights violations in China after there were reports of persecution of the Uighur Muslim population which led to criticism from retailers such as Nike, Adidas and Burberry.
The criticism incited a state-led media boycott of fashion brands accusing the government of persecution, causing a dramatic loss of sales for the fashion retailers.
Adidas saw sales dive 78 per cent year-on-year, while Nike saw a drop of 59 per cent over the same period, with Chinese consumers instead switching to other brands like Anta Sports and Li Ning.