In the second installment of our series of blogs looking at modern slavery and responsible business in the hotel industry, Youth Ambassador Yuan Mao explores what the Modern Slavery Act means for the sector.
The 2015 Modern Slavery Act is a fundamental stepping stone towards tackling modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK. It is not only a ground-breaking piece of legislation that aims to counter the ‘head in the sand approach’ to trafficking often attributed to the hotel industry, but it also acknowledges the central role businesses can play in tackling modern slavery and human trafficking.
Section 54 of the Act, the Transparency in Supply Chains Provision, holds particular relevance to businesses and their global supply chains. The provision requires any commercial organisation with an annual turnover of £36 million and over to produce a yearly slavery and trafficking statement detailing what steps it has taken to ensure that all parts of their business and supply chains are slavery and human trafficking-free. The statement is to be made public and should include information on policies, due diligence, training, risk evaluation and management strategies to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking. With such legal requirements in place, businesses can no longer remain removed from the anti-trafficking conversation and have to start taking responsibility for their actions.
While the Modern Slavery Act signifies considerable progress, there is still a long way to go to ensure it delivers the desired outcomes. For instance, although there are plenty of guidelines available on how to write a modern slavery statement, there are no legal obligations as to what businesses must include or how detailed the content should be. Ergon Associates’ analysis of Modern Slavery statements by almost 240 companies has revealed that two-thirds of the statements in fact failed to identify key risk areas for modern slavery in their supply chains. As Civil Society Organisations and NGOs increasingly scrutinise these statements, any fear of potential backlash for admitting to the risks will be overtaken by the pressure to provide more detailed content. Transparency and openness are necessary for tackling modern slavery and human trafficking in business.
Despite being under the £36 million turnover threshold set out by the Modern Slavery Act, Shiva Hotels has made its own commitment to tackling modern slavery by drafting an Anti-Trafficking Charter. The Shiva Hotels Anti-Trafficking Charter identifies key risk areas, policies, reporting and monitoring procedures, risk assessment and training programmes to, not only identify, but to eradicate all traces of human trafficking from its hotels and supply chains. Through this Charter, Shiva Hotels hopes to initiate a movement of business commitment and collaboration towards clean supply chains and ethical business. The Hotel group will partner with the Thomson Reuters Foundation in November to host a roundtable with fellow hoteliers to discuss the implications of the Modern Slavery Act, share best practices and work collaboratively to drive change within the hotel sector. Shiva Hotels’ determination to end global slavery and human trafficking goes beyond corporate social responsibility or compliance with the Modern Slavery Act. It is a cause that aligns with what Shiva Foundation sees as its moral obligation to protect universal human rights and drive systemic change within the hotel industry and hopefully, one day, businesses everywhere.
To see more about why it is important for the hotel industry to address modern slavery, see our previous blog here.