Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director of Sustainable Products at BRE, says in today’s globalised market place, where there are 45.8million people across 167 countries in modern slavery, human rights due diligence and ethical approaches to organisational and supply chain management are morally and strategically significant.
The online launch of the Ethical Labour Sourcing Standard (ELS) provides a way for companies to self-assess their on-going commitment to the principles of ethical labour sourcing and profile their corporate governance.
The ELS, published by BRE in February 2017, was developed to support businesses to understand the profile of their social/ethical governance, including their human rights challenges. The ELS provides a framework for verifying ethical labour sourcing, and a route for companies working across all sectors and geographies to verify their systems and processes. The progression to an online tool – to support the existing offline service – enables businesses to create an account and immediately begin to understand their strengths and weaknesses in terms of corporate governance risks and requirements.
The easy-to-use online ELS platform consists of actions to be completed to demonstrate the adoption of the principles of ethical labour sourcing. These actions are established from an assessment against 12 issues areas: Organisation structure; Management policies; Management systems; Assurance, compliance and auditing; Human Resources; Immigration; Procurement; Supply chain management; Bribery & corruption; Learning & development; Forums; Reporting.
Only when companies are satisfied they are ready to progress to the formal verification process – which involves a site visit from BRE, producing specific management documentation in the 12 issues areas previously listed – might they elect to do so. In the meantime, they can revisit, re-evaluate and measure online how they are performing against their own objectives, needs and identified risks in the 12 issue areas.
To date, product manufacturer Marshalls, labour provider VGC Group, and contractor Sir Robert McAlpine have formally verified to the ELS. Many others in the construction sector and other industries, both in the UK and globally, have expressed an interest in the ELS. Several are either self-assessing to understand their needs and risks, or formally progressing towards verification, in order to demonstrate their continuous improvement in how ethically they govern their organisations.