Cluedo or Clueless? Company approaches to modern slavery statements
Whilst the other board games that I have referred to in my series of blogs about supply chain transparency have been reliant on dice and a bit of luck, I move now to the game of Cluedo, where players try to figure out the three main facts of a murder: the location of the murder, the murderer, and the murder weapon. It's a board game about deduction.
At this point you are probably wondering how the game of Cluedo relates to the question of publishing a statement under the Modern Slavery Act (MSA). Let’s gather some evidence…
According to the Global Slavery Index, there are roughly 45.8 million slaves in the world today. Whist not all slavery involves murder, it is certainly not absent. And, in fact, if it’s loss of the potential of a life well-lived, that in itself is arguably a ‘death penalty’.
So, we have a victim - or more than one. With these numbers of slaves, we know that the majority of global companies cannot claim to have slavery free supply chains.
According to the rules of Cluedo, players have to determine the location of the murder and the murder weapon. According to the MSA, companies have to publish a statement setting out what steps they are going to take to identify modern slavery in their supply chains. This insinuates knowing more about the location of potential crime scenes.
Those companies that have disclosed the identity of the risks in their supply chain are well on track to gathering evidence. The ‘clueless’ are simply not looking or finding the evidence too hard to gather –that’s the conclusion one can draw from the number of statements that have been identified as not being legally compliant.
We have researched 20 statements of companies based in West Sussex and found over 70% to be legally non-compliant. This is a higher figure than the findings in the Ergon report. There does not seem to be any sense of deduction in these statements that slavery is an actual risk or even seen as a potential risk, with a sense that these issues can be tackled later on. As we know, all board games – whether it’s Cluedo, Snakes and Ladders or Monopoly - have winners and losers. Will the ‘clueless’ only take steps once their board sees the impact to their reputation or in rising litigation suits?
To help solve the mystery of who committed the crime, players are able to make suggestions. Good players will provide helpful information in their statements, setting out how they propose to tackle the risk of modern slavery with reference to their organisational structure, risk management processes and due diligence procedures. The ‘clueless’ will simply gloss over any suggestion of how they might move beyond compliance with reference to the statement being made in accordance with section 54 of the Act.
Cluedo is about deduction. This is true of what is required to address slavery in supply chains. Those companies that are serious about tackling slavery in their supply chains are seeking to map their suppliers and once this has been done, deduce how they will work with those that are seen to pose the highest risk.
The ‘clueless’ merely make simplistic statements like “we do not tolerate any child labour in our supply chains”, with no evidence that there are processes in place or being developed to support this statement or indeed follow industry best practice. A failure to deduce the risk of creating a statement that is not underpinned by a strategy creating a roadmap towards best practice is likely to lead to being eliminated from the game. Players can stay at the table but only to disapprove the suggestions of others.
Spending time in your rooms
It has not been suggested that tackling the issue of slavery in supply chains is going to be easy or something that will happen overnight. In the game of Cluedo, figuring out the rooms is the hardest part of the game. To do this, players are encouraged to learn more about the weapons and the people in their own rooms. It goes without saying that in relation to modern slavery risk the ‘clueless’ don’t know entirely what is going on in their own rooms (i.e business and supply chains) and have not spent time understanding the what ‘weapons’ are effective.
Those companies that have started working on identifying their risks and building their due diligence programmes are the ‘clued-up’ ones. Unlike the ‘clueless’, they will have started mapping how their products or services impact on human rights; identifying the locations of risk and deducting how they can ensure that their ‘weapons’ of due diligence and up-to-date policies will reduce the risk of victims of trafficking in their business and supply chains
Cluedo experts provide four key tips on how to win the game. These tips are just as useful for the ‘clueless’ to help them tackle how to improve their board strategy in the next round of MSA statements: -
1) Before ‘playing’, ask yourself how much work you want to do and if you have the internal resources to tackle the task.
2) Know what information to give away – its about knowing how to manage your disclosure in such a way that your stakeholders find it credible without putting the company at risk of misrepresention.
3) Use your knowledge about other player hands to make new deductions – if you have benchmarked your policies and procedures against your competitors, there may be pre-competitive advantage to working more closely together to solve the issue.
4) Figure out what your opponents know – collaboration, benchmarking will be what shapes the success in tackling slavery issues in the future.
For 'clues' on how to develop your MSA statement, download CLT Envirolaw’s best-practice briefing notes.Colleen Theron, CLT envirolaw