There are more people subjected to slavery-like practices today than at any time in history: almost 21 million people are victims of forced labour.
Due to complex and opaque supply chains, something you wear, eat or drink may very well have touched the hands of a person, even a child, working under duress and in hazardous conditions.
These human rights abuses are linked to Australian companies, investors, government and consumers through global supply chains: 60 per cent of trade in the real economy depends on the supply chains of 50 companies, which only employ 6 per cent of workers directly.
A total of 11.7 million victims of forced labour and 78 million child labourers are located in the Asia-Pacific region. Given the fact that seven countries in this region comprise Australia’s top 10 import sources, Australian companies and government have a responsibility to meet these human rights abuses head on.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan has been accused of “death by committee” after he failed to respond to a report of a working group he set up recommending laws to stop exploitation in company supply chains.
The group has now released its own report fearing its recommendations will be ignored.
Exploitation scandals have hit major Australian brands over the past year. In February, Rip Curl was forced to apologise after its clothing labelled “made in China” was found to be made in North Korean factories. The company blamed a subcontractor.
Sunday marks three years since the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. This disaster led to the tragic loss of 1130 lives, left 2500 injured, and sparked a global debate about workers’ rights and ethical labour standards in low-wage countries. In Australia, civil society organisations such as Baptist World Aid and Oxfam lead the charge to expose labour abuses and improve working conditions in global supply chains. But thus far the government has been largely absent form this debate and has been slow to act.
Medibank Private, Mirvac Group, DUET Group, Spark Infrastructure and Woolworths are among the top ASX 100 companies for appointing women to boards, a new report says.
Some of the worst in the same index include TPG Telecom and Qube Holdings, with no female board members. Westfield had one woman on its board out of 12 spots and Oil Search has one out of nine, the Catalyst think tank report released on Tuesday shows.
The GFC has shown that unsustainable banking activities can bring the economic system to the brink of collapse. A new report by Catalyst Australia examines to what degree banks can also cause or alternatively mitigate social and environmental harm, and what are the resulting responsibilities towards the community and the environment?
The newly introduced G4 guidelines provide a great opportunity for Australian companies to showcase their supply chain performance, but the issue is to disclose supply chain issues that might not be on the radar of the Australian public, says CSR researcher Martijn Boersma.
The Australian annual general meeting (AGM) season is upon us, and has been preceded by the release of annual reports outlining the financial performance of companies listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. In addition to financial results, many companies will be outlining their sustainability performance, either through integrated reporting or via stand-alone sustainability reports.
Today Catalyst Australia launched its CSR Dashboard, which assesses the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of 32 of Australia’s largest companies across six different topics: gender equality, environment, labour standards, supply chain, community investment and engagement. The breadth of research and data analysis that underpins theCSR Dashboard gave the researchers some overall impressions about social and environmental reporting in Australia. Surprisingly, the majority of our leading companies were not up to scratch. Despite being based on well-established global and local standards of good practice, in most cases the criteria used in the CSR Dashboard were too aspirational to be met by the companies in the sample. Only four of the 32 companies provided enough public information to rate their performance in all 20 of the indicators. Ten companies had three or less reporting gaps. At the other end of the spectrum seven of the 32 companies did not achieve a rating in more than half of the 20 indicators. Some topic areas were widely overlooked, such as supply chains. Companies also disclosed selectively around labour standards. The website provides a visual representation of the full results for all companies and topics, as well as background information about the project.