A Systemic Approach

An integral part of our approach to addressing forced labor and human trafficking is understanding how the system evolves and adapts in response to other dynamics at play, including our own interventions.

In 2019 Humanity United and a diverse set of stakeholders re-evaluated the dynamics that allow forced labor and human trafficking to persist in supply chains, and we found that the areas where we were uniquely suited to intervene had shifted. As a result we reshaped and renamed our strategy.

Our global supply chains strategy is focused on finding and leveraging pressure points to create more accountability for corporations with regards to how their business practices impact the lives of workers. Our work continues to evolve, particularly in light of the inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and today focuses on the following three leverage areas.

Worker Advocacy

Despite growing expectations that major brands and retailers act on human rights violations in their supply chains, corporate efforts to date have failed to provide for meaningful engagement with workers – who often lack the power, access and/or resources to impact supply chain dynamics at scale. In order to achieve justice and remedy for those who toil at the base of the global economy, worker-driven solutions are needed that build solidarity among labor and other rights-based movements in addition to bridging divides between local, national, regional and global dialogues. These efforts must promote democracy and diversity to ensure organizing is credibly grounded in the representation of worker demands as well as consciously inclusive of marginalized communities that face added barriers to their rights at work.

Financial Sector

Corporate shareholders are uniquely positioned to influence company policies and practices, including the protection of fundamental labor rights for workers in supply chains. Financial actors help enable a system that prioritizes profits over worker protections and incentivizes the opacity of supply chains where workers can be exploited. Mandatory reporting requirements, voluntary efforts by companies, and investor pressure have elevated the visibility of persistent issues of abuse and exploitation of workers, but progress toward better outcomes continues to be slow. After years of working with corporations to adopt policies and practices to prevent forced labor in their supply chains, we recognize the importance of financial actors in our approach. Shareholders play a critical role in holding companies to account, and they must embrace their responsibility for contributing to the system.

Integrated Data

The amount of supply chain labor rights data and the number of tools and initiatives which use data are growing due to increasing interest by corporations and the launch of initiatives to grow the market for responsible supply chain tools, as well as innovation in data gathering through technology. Supply chain labor rights data will become even more important as technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence, and Internet of Things continue to take hold, and the COVID19 crisis has proven the need for enhanced and widespread labor rights data about supply chains. We see open and integrated approaches to this data and infrastructure as important to facilitating greater impact and ensuring commitment to safer migration, less recruitment exploitation, and better outcomes for workers.

Our partners include:

• Asso-Sherpa
• Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
• Committee on Workers’ Capital
• CIERTO Global
• Equitable Food Initiative
• European Coalition for Corporate Justice
• Global Labor Justice-International Labor Rights Forum
• Global Migrant Workers Network
• Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
• Nepal Investigative Multimedia Journalism Network
• Open Apparel Registry/Open Supply Hub
• Open Data Institute
• openDemocracy Beyond Trafficking & Slavery
• Rights CoLab
• The Investment Integration Project
• Worker Rights Consortium

(This list does not include organizations who have received grants from Humanity United Action)