Thomson Reuters and Mekong Club Launch Modern Slavery Prevention Training

Thomson Reuters has launched a new training course on modern slavery in collaboration with the Mekong Club, a business-driven anti-slavery NGO.

The “Alliance 8.7” states that modern slavery is a crime that affects over 40 million men, women and children worldwide. There are estimated to be 25 million forced-labour victims in supply chains. According to the ILO, forced labour generates 150 billion USD profit annually.

Companies with long, complex supply chains might be unaware that slavery exists several stages away from their ‘visible’ supply chain. Companies with high-tech supply chains might find that raw materials are sourced from areas with a high risk of forced-labour practices. Companies may also recruit or retain – either directly or through a third party – lower-skilled workers to provide construction, janitorial, catering, call centre or other services, who might be victims of unfair treatment and exploitation.

These businesses have a lot at stake when it comes to their reputation and customer loyalty. Banks that are inadvertently investing in high-risk countries/sectors or being used for money laundering purposes are exposing themselves to potential fines, legal action and public shaming.

Silvia Mera, Program Director at Mekong Club said, “The purpose of this new course is to create awareness among company management and employees around the concept of modern slavery and its potential impacts, as the first step to build upon with action aimed at preventing and mitigating possible risk. The decision to use short videos, with each of them focusing on a different topic, has been well received by businesses, as it’s a flexible, concise and effective way to learn about this issue.”

The course is comprised of a series of four-minute educational videos that provide a comprehensive understanding of modern slavery, the risks it poses to businesses, and some of the solutions currently being used.

Several international companies are already using the course to strengthen their internal awareness. Sébastien Pivet, Head of CSR at A.S. Watson Group, commented, “A.S. Watson Group is dedicated to promote good social compliance practices at its suppliers worldwide and provide online training on social compliance not just to suppliers but also to its staff. We joined The Mekong Club in 2016 to help develop qualitative online training materials on modern slavery awareness. We are currently rolling-out this online training to relevant staff in our operations in 24 markets.”

The training is divided into two modules. Module 1 offers an introduction to modern slavery through statistics, clarification of terminology, explanation of the most common techniques used to trick and trap victims, and survivors’ testimonials. Module 2 is more business focused, offering information on current anti-slavery legislation such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, recruitment of migrant workers, as well as the risks modern slavery poses to financial institutions, hotels and manufacturers.

The content included in the course has been developed by the Mekong Club, an organisation formed as a direct response to the growing number of companies looking to develop strategies to address forced labour risk through a professional forum.

Kimberley Cole, Head of Solutions Sales, Asia Pacific at Thomson Reuters said, “Thomson Reuters recently unveiled the findings of our global financial crime report, revealing that most corporations across the globe do not realize the true cost of financial crime which extends beyond financial and reputational damage to societal evils such as modern day slavery and human trafficking. The report also revealed that 89% of respondents struggle to educate and influence colleagues on bribery and corruption and only 50% fully implement workflow and process reports and fully train and educate their customers, third party vendors, suppliers or partners By collaborating with organisations like the Mekong Club to launch this new video training series, we are one step further to ending modern day slavery.”

The English-language version of the Mekong Club video series on modern slavery is a free resource for companies that have signed up for any Thomson Reuters Compliance online training.

On the Mekong Club member-only portal, the course is offered in multiple languages – including Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese – and through additional materials, such as infographics and end-of-unit quizzes.

Watch a sample video here:

Companies interested in the full package can contact the Mekong Club at info@themekongclub.org.