The impact of Modern Slavery Act for all businesses

Susan Macdonald shares some insights here on the impact of the UK Modern Slavery Act for all Businesses, and the role Global Bright Futures can play to help businesses address these impacts.

Don’t miss our webinar on steps you can take to address Modern Slavery in your supply chains and operations.

Introduction to Susan

With a career background in business, senior management, supply chains and sustainability, Susan has used her expertise & extensive industry knowledge to help businesses in multiple sectors transform towards becoming more sustainable.

Let’s hear from Susan

1. Can you describe Global Bright Futures as if the reader knew nothing about it or the market?

Global Bright Futures was created to be a service provider to make becoming more sustainable in business a positive and exciting move for businesses. There is so much negativity and many mixed messages to companies on all the downsides of what is a complex global business economy, that business could be switched off in future, or choose to ignore issues that come up. We focus on the many positive benefits of being more sustainable, and how you can incorporate this into your own business model, explore options for change, create new solutions, and still be a profitable and meaningful business.

This doesn’t mean that we gloss over the difficulties and many challenges that are within business and supply chains, but we help business to build their knowledge of challenges and how to take positive action to address these, and not ignore them. As experienced business people, we know the difficulties and we know there is so much to do. By offering services where we work with them, we do much of the heavy lifting for them and show how things could be even better for their business in future. This empowers the whole business and their teams.

2. What do you find are companies’ biggest stumbling blocks in this area and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

Lack of knowledge and understanding, often from those leading the business, what they can change and what they can have a positive impact on. Lack of budgets or budget allocation  are often sited to be main barriers, especially in tough trading times and where margins are under pressure. The business is thinking in the annual financial cycle, but this is exactly when you need to make the right changes for the future, to take action, to be brave and to be courageous. The businesses that rise to the top in future are those who build and cultivate a sustainable and kinder, more thoughtful culture, and with the values which are expected by their up and coming consumers.  I know ‘kinder’ and ‘thoughtful’ are perhaps not words that have been traditionally associated with ‘business’ in the past, but they are very relevant terms for businesses in future. The business landscape is rapidly changing.

Businesses need to think ahead for their consumers, even if they are not yet there. More transparency is necessary, social media no longer allows any murky businesses to hide or prosper for long. At Global Bright Futures, we work with companies and clients on a range of specific and specialist services as this is often a more cost-effective solution for them. We can hit the ground running from a standing start when delivering a solution, so time is also saved, and we all know time is money. It is often simpler and more effective to engage with us than building a new team or recruiting a new specialist for a specific task. We do see our own Global Bright Futures business model as a very sustainable solution for organisations in tough trading times, especially SME’s who may not have their own full team of specialists. However, for large companies too, who need some specialist expertise in a particular area, perhaps on Modern Slavery Statements, Sustainability Reports, Circular Economy systems, Capital Accounting or simply setting out a strategic plan to present to their board for discussion. Often many of the in house teams may be ‘up to the brim’ with trading, ethical and other pressing issues and need some specific immediate specialist support, so that’s where we come in.

We are excited that we have been asked to provide our services into the professional services sector now too, on Modern Slavery, Circular Economy, and Total Capital Accounting. The is a lot of our horizon. 

3. What are three main implications of the UK Modern Slavery Act for businesses?

All UK businesses (with an annual turnover of over £36 mln) know that under the Modern Slavery Act, publishing a Modern Slavery Statement is a legal requirement and their own responsibility. This could be extended to other nations soon, so building this practice into your own system of reporting is good business now, wherever you are located and operate. You can also tell your consumers about it and what you are doing too.

The Modern Slavery Act applies to all companies from around the world who already operate, or that want to operate in the UK as well, so they must also comply with the legislation. It is not just applicable to UK owned companies.

You probably know that over 9000 businesses have yet to publish a modern slavery statement in the UK, so if you are one of these businesses and your statement is outstanding, then you could probably use our help.

Knowing that ‘modern’ slavery and exploitation is still around in 2018 and can be uncovered in any country globally, for me is a shocking fact. The term may be referred to as ‘modern’ but it is rooted in the same type of slavery that has been abolished 150 years ago. There is no positive future for any business in the use of slavery.

4. If a CFO of a company asked you for your advice on addressing Modern Slavery and you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip, what would that be?

Risk – Be aware of the risks to your business reputation, trust and integrity as it could be devastating, both with your consumers and financially, if a situation regarding modern slavery is linked to you or in your supply chains. As the CEO, you are responsible, and you should support your business in every way possible to ensure you have full understanding of any risk areas, and you should give your teams sufficient time and the resources needed to fulfil the requirements.

5. What action would you want the reader to take?

Ask questions!  After this first series of interviews with the Global Bright Futures team, if you like our business approach from what you have read in our interviews and the services we provide and feel you would like to talk about working with us, then get in touch.

Do you know that your Modern Slavery statement is due as soon as possible after your financial year-end, at the latest 6 months after the financial year-end?

Do you know if you have modern slavery lurking in your business operations or supply chains?

Do you know how to tackle modern slavery if it is found in your supply chain?

We can support you on being prepared for the Modern Slavery Act in the UK, find out more via this pdf