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Being ethical or avoiding heavy penalties, the Global GreenTag MSD™ Modern Slavery Transparency Declaration helps companies monitor product supply chains

4 min read

Released last week ready for Modern Slavery Reporting is the first ever Modern Slavery Declaration for products. The Global GreenTag International MSD™ Modern Slavery Transparency Declaration (GGTI MSD) implements a comprehensive risk assessment and verification process in association with manufacturers on individual product supply chains.

Helping manufacturers to monitor, report on and ultimately eradicate human slavery occurring in their supply chains the GGTI MSD will, in addition, support companies with large procurement portfolios comply with Federal, State and International government legislations in Australia, UK and USA and each of their mandatory Modern Slavery Reporting requirements.Otherwise, potentially incur heavy penalties, depending on the territory in which they are operating.

As government legislations around Modern Slavery grow and increase the mandate for change, Global GreenTag welcomes the pressure that legislative requirements are applying up and down supply chain lines. GGTI has been undertaking ethical product certifications and supply chain level investigations, since its inception 10 years ago, covering many of the issues in MS legislations.

David Baggs, CEO and Program Director of Global GreenTag International who led the development of the GGTI MSD™ said:

“We saw a great need and responsibility to help highlight differences between business as usual products with no transparency about their sourcing and manufacture to those that manage their supply chains ethically, socially and culturally to the best of their capability – and we ‘ve done this from day one of GreenTag’s existence.”

Baggs said that what the MSD does differently for companies is give the industry a common language to help in the collation and aggregation of such complex and variable quality data, to make results transparent and report on not just the risk of Modern Slavery required by legislations but also the quality of the data to make that assessment.

Baggs is sure that other product certification schemes like GECA, Cradle to Cradle, and UL would agree that reporting of every product’s life cycle from raw materials extraction to end-of-life outcomes should include ethical considerations like Modern Slavery and be monitored and declared alongside health and environmental considerations.

Australia witnessed powerful legislation enacted in 2019 when the Australian Government turned up the heat on Modern Slavery at a national level to deal with 10 important ethical employment and human rights issues, encompassing ‘Modern Slavery’. Companies operating in Australia with turnover of more than $100 million are required to submit MS statements to the Australian Border Force.

Although the government won’t be enforcing financial penalties yet because of COVID19 impacts, Baggs said it has introduced a world first online register that supports modern slavery transparency, publishing companies’ statements on their compliance with the new laws.

The GGTI MSD™ incorporates the needs of global Modern Slavery movements. GGTI embarked on development of the product Declaration after the UK launched its MS Legislation in 2015, mandating MS Risk Analysis Statements from companies with global turnovers of more than €50 million, and legislations by the State of California in the USA and in France and Netherlands, which have legislated elements of Human Rights requirements.

The certifier also helped bring focus to the problem of Modern Slavery in Australia, joining a core group of companies, which pledged support behind the Australian Human Rights Commission’s call for MS legislation in late 2017.

More recently, Baggs said they have paid close attention to relevant developments in the built environment industries, such as a new credit that is being proposed within the LEED Pilot Credit Library, and the International WELL Building Standard for MS Compliant or Ethical Supply Chains.

The building industry is a massive consumer of products and materials, but Baggs said it is not the only industry that has large procurement portfolios, so we hope to be of assistance to companies that need to quickly and progressively assess Modern Slavery risk information at a product level to support their own MS reporting requirements. With the MSD, they highlight manufacturers, products and supply chains that are doing the right thing.

Protections included within the GGTI product level MSD™ consider a list of MS activity, involving: Deceptive Recruiting, Trafficking, Servitude, Forced Labour, Forced Marriage, Debt Bondage, Worst Forms of Child Labour, Discrimination, Equal Remuneration, Free Association and Collective Bargaining.

The scope of the MSD™ provides clarity for all parties along supply chains, communicating transparently:

• the risk of Modern Slavery in each ingredient or element supply chain; and
• the reliability of the data, which the Global GreenTag MSD™ statement is based upon.

GGTI’s MSD report provides individual supply chain scores and weighted overall average score and risk rankings of ‘Very Low Risk’, ‘Low Risk’, ‘Low to Medium Risk’ through to ‘Medium’ and ‘Very High Risk’. It provides a quick product Modern Slavery Risk overview, and detailed supporting documentation for a manufacturer’s or their purchasers’ corporate MS Statements, whether mandated or voluntarily undertaken.

Supporting development of the MSD, GGTI conducted two Stakeholder Review processes internationally.The first engaged manufacturers and individuals from various industries, NGOs and countries to understand needs and refine the final versions of the MSD process and template, including three large construction companies that would be required within Australian legislation to publish Modern Slavey Statements.

The second survey supported the weighting process of the Product MS Scorecard, determining if indications from the initial process that scores should be involved, also meant that score weightings be involved also, and if so, what those weightings should be.

Responses came from nearly 50 Australian and International companies, NGOs, City Councils, Government Agencies, Tier 1 Construction and Accounting companies, Green Building Council of Australia, United States Department of Labor, Responsible Wood and Ethical Supply and Human Rights Organisations.


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