Human Trafficking and the Modern Supply Chain: What you Can’t See Can Hurt You
If you thought slavery was abolished centuries ago, think again. It’s estimated that there are still between 20 and 30 million forced laborers around the world today. And chances are good that some of them work for you or your suppliers.
Scan the headlines and you’ll see that human trafficking has been uncovered in nearly every industry and in every corner of the world - from indentured servants on commercial fishing boats in Thailand and refugees working in inhumane conditions across fields and factories in Syria to child laborers working cocoa and coffee farms in Latin America and Africa. From electronics to fashion, from hospitality to mining and cultivation, no product or service is spared.
It’s a major risk. And it can’t be ignored. Legislation from the United States to the United Kingdom and beyond along with human rights watch dog groups and policies that require businesses to report on their labor practices. With increasing frequency, millennial workers and consumers are issuing calls to action as they seek to work for and with companies that have strong ethical practices. And then there is brand reputation. Companies exposed for using slave labor often experience backlash from which they may never recover.
Are there slaves in your supply chain? If you’re like most companies, you have no clue. But in today’s networked and data-driven economy, this shouldn’t be the case.
As a society, we are more connected and informed than ever. As consumers, we get our news in real time on our mobile devices neatly aggregated by one of the many newsfeeds we subscribe to. And we instantly like or share it with our family and friends across the social networks we belong to. As businesses, we can leverage these same technologies to pinpoint potential risks and opportunities that may be hidden deep in our supply network and address them before they disrupt business.
Leveraging the power of networks, big data and analytics, companies can gain a whole new level of transparency into the capabilities, performance, and social and environmentally responsible practices of their suppliers – and their suppliers’ suppliers. They can map the bill of materials for products and services right down to their raw materials and cross-reference this information with hotspots where there is a high propensity for the use of forced and child labor to determine their risk. And receive timely alerts they can use to drive actions and report on them in meaningful ways. Many companies, for instance, have begun to highlight their ethical practices on their websites and product packaging.
All of this is critical. Because at the end of the day, your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And what you can’t see can hurt you – and your business. With the help of modern technology, you can connect your systems – from ERP to specialized applications - to source, manage contracts, and assess each engagement opportunity across your supply base in ethically responsible ways. Combined with the power of business networks, you can proactively discover, build healthy supply chains that are both sustainable and ethical and transform your organization in ways that not only help your business, but make the world a better place.
This isn’t just a huge opportunity, it’s a responsibility. Because while, you can outsource processes and manufacturing, you can’t outsource accountability.
Written by Padmini Ranganathan, Vice President, Products & Innovation on human trafficking, SAP Ariba
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DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.