Hospitality & leisure firms struggling to act on modern slavery, edie report finds

EXCLUSIVE: Modern slavery is seen as a 'business-critical' sustainability challenge by just one-fifth of firms operating in the UK's hospitality and leisure sector, with businesses struggling to achieve fully-transparent supply chains, edie's latest sector insight report has found.

The brand new ‘sector insight’ report, launched today (2 May), includes an extensive in-depth survey of 19 sustainability and CSR  professionals working within large UK hospitality and leisure businesses.


The survey revealed that just 21% of respondents viewed modern slavery as ‘business-critical, with one-third of respondents considering it a potential challenge in the future.

There are around 115,000 human trafficking victims within the hospitality sector in Europe, of which, 95,000 are sexually exploited. Around 7,000 workers are labour exploitation victims working in the industry.

The impacts are being felt in the UK, with 11% of respondents revealing that their organisation had found evidence of modern slavery in its supply chain since the enforcement of the Modern Slavery Act.

The Act is UK legislation which requires any business with a global turnover of £36m or more that supplies goods and services to the UK, or is based in the UK, to publish an annual statement of compliance with the Modern Slavery Act. This 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, covering an array of issues including human trafficking, child labour and cases of debt bondage.

Transparency challenge

Cases of modern slavery and human rights abuses can appear across any part of the supply chain, and a lack of management and transparency across these complex chains seems to be hindering action in the sector.

Almost half of edie’s Sector Insight respondents (47%) cited a lack of supply chain transparency as a ‘significant’ challenge for the sustainability of the hospitality & leisure industry. In fact, 37% of respondents said that their organisation was yet to fully map its suppliers to understand the potential risks and exposure to modern slavery.

This supply chain management challenge is compounded further by the revelation that just 15% of respondents listed ‘ethical sourcing programmes’ as one of their three top significant sustainability investment areas for 2017/18.

The report combines the survey results with an array of key industry facts and stats, inspiring sustainability success stories – including Shiva Hotels’ “industry-leading” anti-slavery programme – and best-practice case studies from businesses across the UK hospitality industry. It goes on to explore three drivers, four challenges and five opportunities facing sustainability professionals in the sector.

This is the sixth in edie’s series of sector insight reports, following similar analysis into retailmanufacturing, food and drinkthe public sector and the construction industry.

Read the full hospitality sector insight report here.

Matt Mace

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