BRE launches guidelines to combat modern slavery in the construction sector
A new eight-step guidance plan has been launched to help companies in the property and construction sectors become "best in class" in combatting global human rights abuses across value chains.
Building Research Establishment (BRE) has partnered with Loughborough University to publish the Action Programme on Responsible and Ethical Sourcing (APRES) Eight Pathways Model. APRES aims to provide a professional approach to the responsible and ethical sourcing of materials across relevant markets globally.
“Accountability is an absolute must for supply-chain excellence and sustainable procurement in the 21st century – the pressure from both public and commercial parties to demonstrate transparency and traceability is not going to go away,” BRE’s director of sustainable products Dr Shamir Ghumra said. “The APRES Eight Pathways Model holds the keys to progress and success.”
APRES presents eight pathways to move companies from the level of “baseline” to capturing best practice performances as part of the “best in class” level. With the Global Slavery Index estimating that there are 45.8 million people exposed to modern slavery, BRE wants businesses to address the way they operate.
Launched as part of a white paper, APRES issues four stages of plan, do, check and improve, along with eight pathways that cover issues from compliance and auditing to staff training and development.
The pathways are based on “critical areas of operation” in a business, and cover initial policy-making as a well as communications packages and continuous improvement. BRE believes that APRES will be of interest organisations and stakeholders including: asset owners, manufacturers, market analysts, subcontractors, suppliers and supply-chain auditors.
Commenting on the launch, chair of architecture and sustainable construction at Loughborough University professor Jacqui Glass said: “It seemed inevitable that tough questions would start getting asked about organisations’ and companies’ ethical policies and practices. In construction, known for its long and complex global supply chains, these questions do not simply stop at the entrance to the building site, or even the UK border.
“The APRES Eight Pathways Model is an important new contribution to knowledge. It builds on academic research, market intelligence, co-created insights, plus sound management systems and practices from some of the leaders in the field. It answers the fundamental question – how do I embed the right practices in my business?”
Human rights issues have been a growing concern for businesses since the reporting requirements for the UK Modern Slavery Act came into effect in 2016. The Act is the first piece of UK legislation – and the first in Europe – to focus on prosecuting and preventing acts of modern slavery in supply chains.
The issue is prominent in the construction sector, with a survey finding that more than half of construction businesses would not know what action to take if modern slavery was encountered in their supply chain.
Businesses have been urged to stay alert to modern slavery risks in their European supply chains after new research highlighted rising levels of exploitation across large swathes of the continent, including the UK.
Earlier this week, a purchasing consortium for higher education facilities in London became the first in the global education sector to be assessed to the ISO 20400 standard for sustainable procurement, following on from private firm Balfour Beatty’s assessment earlier in the year.
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