End Modern Slavery in Asia
The Mekong Club uses an Association model to bring four industry-specific working groups together, including: Banking, Manufacturing, Hospitality and Retail. This model encourages like-minded companies to share their experiences and work together in a safe environment. Participating members review available information, identify industry priorities, and provide suggestions on what can be done to add practical value to the response.
Annual profits from modern-day slavery are estimated to be US$150 billion, most of which goes through the global banking system. Being on the front line of financial transactions, the financial services industry has a distinct advantage in being able to identify suspicious activity and stop it. Issues of interest include the importance of using big data to help identify “red flags”, understanding criminal patterns to develop systems to track this activity, and the importance of training to develop the capacity of employees at all levels to find potential problems.
With extensive supply chain and manufacturing channels in multiple, usually underdeveloped countries, it can be difficult for companies to monitor their many supply chain outlets. Increased understanding of the ways that slavery can appear in supply chains is vital to effecting change. Issues of interest include developing risk assessment tools, standardizing auditing methods and approaches, consolidating information collected from audits across industries, and improving communication within companies across internal divisions.
There are dozens of touch points where modern slavery can occur in the hospitality industry – staff recruitment and food sourcing are only two examples. Due to the vast size of the industry, eradicating this issue has the potential to affect thousands of lives. Issues of interest include how to train staff at different levels to detect the problem, how to address the four potential vulnerabilities within the hotel industry – forced prostitution, forced labour within supply chains, third-party service contracts, and construction – and how to develop standardized responses across hotel chains.
Any amount of product sold that is found to have a link with modern slavery or child labour puts a retailer in a position of liability and potential reputation risk. Urged by public pressure and the need to safeguard their businesses, many of the biggest retailers worldwide have engaged in more proactive monitoring activities. Issues of interest include understanding how to inform and educate suppliers, how to identify the boundaries of supply chain involvement, and how to respond to a reputation crisis.
Between meetings, the Mekong Club takes the recommendations made by the association members and operationalizes them with the help of technical experts in the field (toolkits, training programs, data updates, etc). Once developed and tested, these outputs are used to improve their responses to this issue.
See more about our tools.
Using private sector ambassadors, the Mekong Club helps to increase the influence of the private sector in stepping up and taking a leadership role. These individuals identify gaps in knowledge and actions related to modern slavery, offer useful recommendations and encourage private sector partners to take a more active role.
Awareness and Advocacy
Awareness raising and advocacy have always been important, core components of the Mekong Club’s strategy. The objectives of these efforts are to create a general understanding of the issue; to help companies understand the potential vulnerability to their business; to desensitize the private sector; and to encourage them to join the overall fight.
Watch the video of Matt’s TEDX talk S.Joaquin