LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – U.S. technology giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co won the top honour at a global anti-slavery award on Thursday for tackling the risk of forced labour in its supply chain.
German fashion label ARMEDANGELS and Indian campaign group Missing Link Trust were also commended in the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Stop Slavery Award which has eight categories for companies and NGOs setting an example in efforts to end slavery.
HPE – joint-winner of the inaugural prize in 2016 – scooped the goods and service firms award, receiving recognition for its sustained commitment to combating forced labour and focusing on the responsible sourcing of minerals for its computer hardware.
“Since (2016), HPE has remained committed to being transparent and open about the challenges and actions we’ve been taking to combat modern slavery throughout our supply chain,” said HPE’s Chief Operating & Legal Officer John Schultz.
With modern slavery increasingly garnering attention worldwide, businesses are under growing pressure from both governments and consumers to disclose what actions they are taking to ensure their supply chains are free from exploitation.
About 25 million people globally are estimated to be trapped in forced labour, from factories, farms and fishing boats to the sex trade, according to a 2017 estimate by the United Nations.
The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has left countless people at greater risk of exploitation, while victims of slavery are less likely to be found or get help with attention and resources diverted elsewhere, experts have warned.
Other winners of the Stop Slavery Award included Bon Pasteur Kolwezi, an NGO in the Democratic Republic of Congo that tackles child labour in cobalt mines, and Missing Link Trust from India.
Missing Link received the campaigns award for its use of art and technology to raise awareness around sex trafficking, from murals and interactive comics to a video game for smartphones.
“This award is going to strengthen our work on the prevention of trafficking and help us to reach many, many more (victims),” said Leena Kejriwal, who founded Missing Link in 2014.
The Stop Slavery Award has previously been won by U.S. tech behemoths Apple and Intel, German sportswear giant Adidas, British retail bank HSBC UK and consumer goods company Unilever.
The shortlists for the company awards were drawn up after entrants completed a detailed questionnaire, designed in partnership with human rights specialists at multi-national law firm Baker & McKenzie, giving details about their operations.
An independent specialist assessed the company submissions on the strength of anti-trafficking policies already in place, as well as their ability to identify and respond to problems.
Writing by Thomson Reuters Foundation staff, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org