Modern slavery to be tackled through digital supply chain assessment

By Tony Zhang|19 November 2020
Abigail McGregor

Norton Rose Fulbright will aim to tackle modern slavery issues through innovating its supply chain risk assessment solution in a new partnership.

ethiXbase and Norton Rose Fulbright have entered into an exclusive licence and collaboration agreement to develop a modern slavery supply chain risk assessment tool. 

The aim is to help organisations identify and act on human rights risks within their supply chain and comply with global modern slavery laws which be crucial for organisations next year.

Abigail McGregor, partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, said that COVID-19 has put all companies under pressure, and “one of the ways we are seeing that manifest itself is in a degree of unpreparedness to meet new reporting obligations for modern slavery.”

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“Australian companies with annual revenues of more than AU$100 million are required by law to prepare modern slavery statements by March next year, if their reporting year ends in June, and so they should already be well advanced in their preparation,” Ms McGregor said.

The problem is the pandemic has greatly disrupted supply chains, and in some cases caused companies to quickly replace known suppliers with new ones.

That creates a heightened level of risk from a modern slavery perspective if those risks have not been properly managed. Fortunately, our joint work with ethiXbase to create a cutting-edge analytics platform takes much of the concern, manual work and risk out of the equation.”

The questionnaire will be offered by ethiXbase via the ethiXbase 360 platform and is an integral component of the ethiXbase Human Rights Module, which has been designed to help organisations identify and act on human rights risks within their supply chain.

The Modern Slavery Questionnaire applies the know-how which was developed by Norton Rose Fulbright using its expertise in identifying and assessing modern slavery risks, to provide an indicative risk rating.

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This will then be delivered and managed via the ethiXbase 360 platform to thousands of suppliers, utilising robust analytics and automated workflows to trigger appropriate risk mitigation strategies and support regulatory reporting. The rating can be used to assist organisations in managing modern slavery reporting obligations in multiple jurisdictions.

The questionnaire is among the first applications by a law firm of analytics in the human rights space,” Leas Bachatene, chief executive of ethiXbase, said.

“The firm’s well-developed methodology is underpinned by ethiXbase’s robust technology, data, and services, helping clients to significantly reduce the time and effort spent mapping and assessing modern slavery risk in their supply chains. 

“As it scales with more data, the solution will also allow the organisation to develop benchmarks per industry across the world, and identify emerging threats to business continuity and reputation arising from supply chain breaches.”

This comes as efforts continue for reporting entities to continue to address modern slavery risks during this COVID-19 pandemic and start considering the mandatory reporting criteria in preparation for submitting their first modern slavery statements.

Another BigLaw firm also launched its first Modern Slavery Action Plan to support the eradication of all forms of slavery that exist today.

Modern slavery to be tackled through digital supply chain assessment
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