KnowTheChain, an initiative of four organizations from the public and the private sector, released a new benchmark report, providing an overview of the situation in practice by assessing corporate performances in terms of human rights due diligence (HRDD). This report Closing the Gap brings together evidence from nine separate KnowTheChain benchmarks to provide a broad assesment of the current rigour and effectiveness of these companies’ due diligence actions.
HRDD is one of the main tools for companies to conduct business responsibly, ensuring that crimes like forced labour and human trafficking are not taking place under their sphere of influence. This assessment concerns high risk sectors such as the information & communication technology (ICT), food and beverage, apparel and footwear, over a five years span.
The report confirms that voluntary measures are not enough, and regulations of mandatory HRDD must be effective, meaning that it should be a mere box-ticking exercise, especially as KnowTheChain data exposes the slow rate of progress on due diligence efforts by the world’s largest companies operating in the highest-risk sectors for forced labour. In fact, it is found that over one third of the companies reviewed, do not show any evidence that they are assessing human rights risks. In addition, 80% of them provide no evidence, that they are adopting responsible purchasing practices. These numbers prove that there is a still a clear need for mandatory measures to tackle exploitation along supply chains.
The report recommends governments to ensure:
- Transparency of companies’ supply chains, including lower tiers.
- Meaningful and safe stakeholder engagement with rightsholders, including workers, in the design,
implementation and evaluation of the due diligence process.
- Mandatory requirements compelling companies to address irresponsible business models by implementing responsible purchasing practices and ensuring workers’ rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining are protected.
- Human rights due diligence be carried out across companies’ whole supply chains, focusing on
identified salient risks.
- A strong civil liability regime to hold companies accountable and ensure access to remedy for workers
LSI welcomes this report and its recommendations and together with our members we will continue to call for binding due dilligence measures at EU and national European level to ensure setting a Europe-wide legal framework for due diligence to address severe forms of labour exploitation like human traffikcing and forced labour.