Implications of Modern Slavery Act for businesses & the importance of data

– Hear from Anna Karlsson Ellison at Global Bright Futures on how businesses can respond to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act in the UK, how to overcome the biggest sustainability challenges and what she has learnt along the way –

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

Introduction to Anna

Anna is the data, impact and storytelling expert at Global Bright Futures. With a background in nature protection and sustainable living, Anna moved into the sustainable supply chain & textile industry 8 years ago. She has worked with local sustainable development organisations in Central and South America, East and South Asia and Europe and across the supply chain from farmers to brands.

Her main interests are engagement & storytelling, focusing on communications marketing and engagement across teams, as well as data & impact projects such as Carbon Credits, Natural Capital valuation, private codes of conduct to assure sustainability claims, impact evaluation and data analysis.

Let’s hear from Anna

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

We support brands on their strategy, supply chains and operations to drive long-term, sustainable wealth and profit. Our focus is on where profit and happiness of people and planet go hand in hand, and where people enjoy working.

We work with SMEs who often don’t have their own resources or need some extra support. We also support larger companies who need that extra pair of hands (or eyes).

Good businesses today take ethical trade seriously, but there’s more to address around the externalities and impacts of how our every day objects are made and how services are provided. This includes ensuring products and services do not create negative consequences for air and water, diversity of animals and plants, a living income, and health and wellbeing for staff, as well as the people making the products and providing the services.

2. Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

Throughout my career it’s the people I have worked with that have inspired me. I have worked with some amazing people in South America and South Asia, working with local communities, organisations, businesses and governments on sustainable farming & livelihoods, environmental protection, children education and human rights.

I have also worked with some amazing people in the UK and in Europe, people and businesses who have so much knowledge and who are sharing that knowledge, as well as people who know when they don’t have the knowledge and willing to learn.

My child also inspires me every day, looking at the world through my 4 year old’s eyes, answering all the questions (why, what, why, but why?) and constantly learning to be more empathetic and to slow down and appreciate life.

3. What surprising lessons have you learnt along the way?

I’m learning new things all the time. I think we never stop learning. One thing I’m often surprised about is how often data is not used to inform decisions, or that the data is not used to communicate important information to key stakeholders.

Many businesses and organisations, smaller and larger, are now collecting a lot of data. Big data is BIG. A lot of this data is not analyzed in an actionable way or it’s not even needed. By really thinking through what data you need and what you will do with it, data can be so much more useful. Really think through what story you want your company to be part of and how you get the information you need.

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

From working with many global brands throughout their supply chains from POS to raw material, we’ve seen how hard it can be to implement and especially to scale up initiatives. It is also hard to know what really has a positive impact; for the business, for the supply chain and the environment.

Many see sustainability as a complex issue and it’s also seen as outside of every day budgets. There can be a lack of knowledge and resources, and potential risks and opportunities for the business are not always known.

How to overcome stumbling blocks… Well, working with and learning from others that have already been on that journey and have the knowledge is important. Knowing what your company’s risks are and, if you don’t address those risks, how they could impact the success of the company in the long-term.

Another important issue to look at is how you measure any impact (both positive and negative), being able to understand the data and information you receive and how to use it to move forward. In addition, be honest about challenges when things are not going well. For all of this, you need the right resources, which can be supporting your existing staff, hiring the right people or working with external resources.

This is where Global Bright Futures can support businesses. We can show how addressing these issues can be more affordable than what you might believe, in the short-term and the long-term. We can simplify the complex issue of sustainability, breaking down how to address what matters. We believe in analysing risks and supporting businesses to address these and we love data. Having the right data and the right stories is so important.

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

One: if you are a company supplying goods or services and have a minimum turnover of £36 million per year, you will need to prepare a Modern Slavery statement for each financial year. Even if you have a turnover that is less than that, you can provide a voluntary statement. If a smaller company is bidding for contracts from larger businesses, that smaller company could be asked to show its slavery policy or to comply with the larger company’s policy.

Two: There’s a reputational risk and potential loss of consumers and profit if Modern Slavery is not addressed.

Three: It can be a challenge to understand and address Modern Slavery in supply chains and operations. Your company will need time and resources. If not addressed you are at very high risk of having slaves producing your products and providing you with services.

6. If a CEO 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?

Understand your risks and what the risk hot spots are – this can vary depending on industries, geographies and markets where you and your supply chains operate. Make sure you can engage your teams and your suppliers on your human rights/ modern slavery policies in a way that makes sense and that is actionable for them. In addition, make sure you can measure your progress.

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

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity”
(Amelia Earhart, first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic).

Decide to act, then act. You might need approval from someone, and you might need more information. We can certainly help you on this, so if you like our approach, read more about our Modern Slavery services via our pdf here and make sure you don’t miss our webinar on steps you can take to address Modern Slavery in your supply chains and operations.

In addition, keep informed. How that works depend on how you work best. I like signing up to just a few really good newsletters to stay on top of current information. I obviously believe our newsletter is a great one to sign up to, supporting you to future-proof your business.

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