HP Inc (NYSE:HPQ) and Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) were given the highest scores among 20 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) companies in terms of preventing forced labor in supply chains.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated the 21 million people are victims of forced labor worldwide. The private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits through forced labor every year.
The UK Modern Slavery Act and the California Supply Chains Transparency Act requires companies to reveal their initiatives to fight forced labor. Migrant workers at the supply chains of ICT companies are usually at risk of suffering forced labor due to certain factors such being trapped in debt.
18 ICT companies are committed to combat forced labor
KnowTheChain, an online resource for business and investors, evaluated 20 ICT companies’ efforts to address forced labor in their supply chains. The organization looked into the ICT companies’ commitment and governance, traceability and risk assessment, purchasing practices, recruitment, monitoring, remedy, and worker voice.
Eighteen of the 20 companies have a public commitment to solve the problem, but far fewer have policies and practices in place to do it.
Among the 20 ICT companies, HP has the highest score of 72 followed by Apple with a score of 62. Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ:CSCO) have a score of 59 and 58 respectively. Microsoft Corporation ranked fifth with a score of 57.
KnowTheChain noted that highest-scoring companies have strong policies to address exploitation through the recruitment process. HP has a standard policy that requires supplies to employ workers directly and where possible minimize the use of agents in the recruitment process.
“At HP we believe that our actions must focus on addressing some of the greatest challenges we face as a society, including combating human trafficking, forced labor, and other forms of exploitation of vulnerable workers,” according to the company’s spokesperson.
Reliable grievance mechanisms for migrant workers
KnowTheChain also found that some ICT companies prove that the highest risk of forced labor can be traced to the level of commodities at supply chains. Additionally, the benchmark indicated that 16 of the 20 companies can trace whether conflict minerals exist in their supply chains.
Annabel Short, Deputy Director at Business & Human Rights Resource Center, commented, “Forced Labor will persist in the ICT Industry unless workers at the lowest tiers of the supply chain can voice their concerns. Vulnerable migrant workers must be able to organize and to access trusted, reliable grievance mechanisms.
“While we recognize that some companies are trying to meaningfully address the issue of forced labor in their supply chains, this reports demonstrates that far more can and should be done,” said Ed Marcum, Managing Director of Humanity United, the foundation that leads KnowTheChain.