Many people associate modern slavery with something far removed from their day to day life in Australia. However, modern slavery can take many forms and businesses can play a role in helping to address the issue.
With an estimated 40.3 million people around the world subject to modern slavery, Siobhan Toohill, Group Head of Sustainability at Westpac Group commented: “From the way operations are managed to how sourcing decisions are made, preventing modern slavery is something all organisations can play a part in.”
Westpac’s 2017 UK Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement (PDF 229KB) outlines our commitment to sustainable business practices and advancing human rights, and the steps we have taken to prevent modern slavery in our business and supply chains. This includes:
- Enhancing our approach on human rights through our second Human Rights Position Statement and 2020 Action Plan (PDF 6MB)
- Continuing to apply our established standards for ethical and social business practices for suppliers through our Responsible Sourcing Code of Conduct (our Code) and overseeing these through our global Responsible Sourcing Steering Committee
- Undertaking due diligence and risk assessment to avoid involvement with suppliers where there could be the potential for breaches or abuses of human rights
- Implementing a refreshed Responsible Sourcing Supplier Assessment that identifies inherent environmental, ethical, social or governance risks based on country of operation and sector specific risks
- Continuing to work collaboratively with suppliers to influence ethical performance in line with our Code and encouraging them to extend the principles of the Code to their own suppliers
- Requiring our suppliers to submit to an independent audit of their performance against our Code, as required
- Requiring employees directly responsible for supplier engagement to complete mandatory training to ensure a high level of understanding of the risks of modern slavery in our supply chain
- Engaging in ongoing monitoring to measure our own performance and identify further improvements.
“Our goal is to work in partnership with our suppliers and that includes how we manage risks in our supply chain,” says Simon LeGear, Chief Procurement Officer at Westpac Group.
“As part of our work to expand the reporting of our social impacts, we commenced formal reporting of our human rights progress in line with the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework in our 2017 Sustainability Performance Report,” continued Siobhan. “We also support, and acknowledge the importance of the proposed Australian Modern Slavery Act - expected to be implemented later this year.”
- In 2017, we spent AU$5.6 billion with suppliers across Australia and New Zealand
- We employ almost 40,000 employees across the Group and buy goods and services from around 30,000 suppliers
- We have operations in Australia, New Zealand, Pacific region as well as New York, London and Asia.
About Westpac’s approach to human rights
We are a signatory to a number of international covenants and compacts on human rights, including the UN Global Compact, which stands for, among other things, the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour and the abolition of child labour.
Our approach is further guided by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and is set out in our Human Rights Position Statement and 2020 Action Plan (PDF 6MB).
Supporting our Statement are a number of principles, policies and frameworks that help us in mitigating human rights risks in our business and supply chains including:
- Our Principles for Doing Business which set out how we aim to conduct ourselves, including in the areas of governance and ethics, employee practices and supply chain management
- Our operating principles and policies including our Code of Conduct, Whistleblower Protection Policy, and Economic and Trade Sanctions Policy.
Our Sustainability Risk Management Framework sets out our approach to managing sustainability risks and our Responsible Sourcing Code of Conduct (PDF 305KB) sets out requirements including that our suppliers do not participate in activities that breach employment laws and regulations.
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Global Slavery Index 2017