Consumers can have a huge impact on modern slavery. By being aware of the dynamics in supply chains and consciously trying to be an ethical consumer, you can avoid contributing to modern slavery, and help force corporations and businesses to take steps to ensure integrity and transparency in their supply chains.
The American Psychological Association describes ethical consumerism as “the purchase and consumption of goods and services in accordance with one’s social or moral beliefs.”
Recently, ethical consumerism has become substantially more widespread, particularly with young people. As a consumer you have buying power. Corporations need to satisfy consumers in order to make profit and continue functioning as a business. When the consumers one and only priority is low prices, corporations tends to sacrifice the integrity of their supply chains in order to supply products at these prices.
If, consumers demand transparent and ethical supply chains, free from exploitation and slavery, this puts pressure on corporations to take steps to improve the integrity of their supply chains so that they can satisfy their customers. These dynamics exist in nearly all supply chains in any industry, whether that is retail, food, household items or pharmaceuticals. The power of a consumer is enormous and the impact that a combined movement from consumers can have is profound.
There are some very easy and minor changes that young people can make to substantially impact the modern slavery on a global level. Educate yourself about slavery in supply chains and be aware of the issues and dynamics that are involved. Figure out how to be an ethical consumer, using practical tools such as mobile apps. Being an ethical consumer is important, not only for reducing slavery in supply chains, but also for helping the environment, reducing inequality and creating sustainable economic growth around the world.
Tracing the actual supply chain of a product or service can prove difficult, particularly in certain industries. For example, if you were to map a supply chain of coffee, you would often end up with a complex web of sellers and resellers where contributions to the final product might come from numerous suppliers.
This can make the identification of potential human trafficking and slave labour in the supply chain hard to detect.
Cotton Harvesting in Uzbekistan
Cobalt Mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo
How can you be an ethical consumer and avoid slavery in supply chains?
By thinking about the dynamics of supply chains before you make a purchase you can make sure that you are not contributing to the ongoing forms of modern slavery that occur in supply chains of many different types. You can research a company and seek what their position on the matter is. Corporations will generally have some sort of modern slavery statement available on their website. Have a look at the Woolworths Group Modern Slavery Statement 2020 as an example. Alternatively there are a number of useful tools and indexes that can help you determine the company’s position and reputation on slavery in supply chains. Check out these online resources and tools that can help you learn more and become an ethical consumer:
Generally reducing the amount you purchase (particularly clothing) as well as purchasing pre-owned goods can also help reduce the prevalence of modern slavery in supply chains.