Be it modern day slavery or the extinction crisis, too many businesses think they can get away with hiding unethical and illegal behaviour in their supply chains, and indeed they do. The nature of business models today is that they’re heavily reliant on multiple levels of supply chain contracting, including third party arrangements. In the main, the longer the supply chains, the more opaque they become.
Complex, global supply chains have evolved in parallel with a highly successful campaign to convince society that any regulation is inherently bad for the economy and job creation. All this means is that it is almost impossible to obtain accurate or useful information about what is happening as a result of fully globalised trade.
Given these difficulties and the simple need to start somewhere, those investigating modern day slavery have a pattern of splitting the supply chain into three sections:
- Raw materials
- Intermediate stage manufacturing (for example, tanneries), and
- Final stage manufacturing
Discussions with the investigators of modern day slavery confirmed that while inroads are being made in the transparency of intermediate and final stages of manufacturing, much less is being done at the raw materials end, simply because it is much harder to do.