Co-presenter: Paul V. Lalli - Global Counsel - Labor & Human Rights, General Electric Company
Human trafficking, or “modern slavery,” is the largest and fastest growing organized crime in the world. The International Labour Organization estimates the international proceeds of this global crime to be US$150 billion annually. Recent estimates suggest that as many as 45 million people are currently trapped in conditions of modern slavery.
Don’t think it applies to your company and its supply chain? Please think again.
Most of these men, women and children are engaged in the global supply chains of legitimate businesses. Victims of such working conditions produce goods that enter and taint the supply chain of goods made, used and consumed by business in the US and other leading economies—and the companies involved may not even be aware.
As the United States and other countries consider how best to respond to the growing threat to global security and rule of law attendant with human trafficking in the business supply chain, Seyfarth invites all of our 40,000 clients (including over 60% of the Fortune 500) to a webinar on this critically important topic that will touch each and every one of you, if it does not already do so. This webinar will be of interest to CEOs, general counsel and senior employment counsel and will cover:
- Current obligations for US companies under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015;
- Current state of US law on Modern Slavery;
- Technical solutions to slavery data capture and intelligence;
- Possible developments for American laws on Modern Slavery in the supply chain; and
- How, together, we can fight this terrible and growing shadow industry that is tainting our supply chains and putting companies at reputational, financial and legal risk, in addition to the obvious horrifying social and moral implications.
Seyfarth’s Leadership on This Important Issue
For the last six years, members of our International Employment Practice, led by Pete Talibart in London, have been advising the international human rights charity STOP THE TRAFFIK. We assisted them in lobbying the UK government to include a supply chains requirement in the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 (“MSA”) and through the drafting process, suggesting content and key issues to create effective impact. Seyfarth also advised the Bishops of the Church of England in the House of Lords on the supply chains provisions of the MSA. Section 54 (Supply Chains) of that Act has already been called both “ground breaking” and “historic”. Any US company doing business in the UK with a global turnover of over US$50 million is already governed by Section 54 MSA.
After the MSA was passed, Seyfarth, in cooperation with lawyers from around the world, produced supply chain transparency laws in 27 countries with varying legal systems, to show that supply chain integrity for human beings could easily be incorporated into corporate governance laws around the world to take the profits out of this terrible crime. These were published in the Financial Times.
Seyfarth is also a member of—and currently advising—the Global Sustainability Network, a joint venture between the Vatican and the Church of England, along with other faith and important business representatives, which are committed to the eradication of modern slavery in all its forms. This webinar has been discussed with and is fully endorsed by both Churches.
General Electric’s Leadership on This Important Issue
GE has a long history of promoting human rights in its business and supply chains. GE’s Ethical Supply Chain program requires virtually all suppliers to comply with GE’s Supplier Expectations Policy, which among other things mandates compliance with laws to treat workers fairly, provide a safe and healthy work environment, protect environmental quality, and comply with prohibitions against forced, prison or indentured labor and against subjecting workers to any form of compulsion, coercion or human trafficking. GE monitors adherence to this program in many ways, including through a risk-based on-site audit program that resulted in over 2,700 detailed audits of new or existing suppliers last year alone (nearly all in developing countries). GE publishes data on these audits on its www.gesustainability.com website.
An Acknowledgement from STOP THE TRAFFIK
Ruth Dearnley OBE, CEO of STOP THE TRAFFIK said, “Seyfarth Shaw has changed the international paradigm on this issue. I have worked closely alongside Pete Talibart, Managing Partner of Seyfarth London, working with his unique ability to think with immense skill and equally matched imagination and creativity. He laid out the investor protection argument for supply chain transparency. His arguments were key to convincing the UK government that business leaders and, critically, directors needed to commit to this principle in their public reporting in order to protect the millions of pounds of investment by British citizens and their pension funds into the great British companies. The approach was to argue that Governments needed to engage company directors as some of the best and brightest soldiers in the fight against this huge, invisible crime, rather than treating them as willing conspirators to it. Business has the opportunity to pioneer international change. Pete and his team argued that a supply chain law was inevitable: that it was obscene we knew more about the supply chain of our hardwood and tobacco than about the health, safety and security of the men women and children who produced it, and that the combination of business ethics and good law are critical to creating communities that are both high risk and low profit to the trafficker."