Financial firms slammed for ‘worrying’ low awareness of modern slavery


The UK’s anti-slavery commissioner has called on UK financial firms to up their game in the fight against modern slavery after a damning new investigation showed many are blind to its existence in the country.

The study shows that 39% of senior financial services employees do not believe modern slavery exists in the UK.

Another third do not know if their employer has a policy in place to manage the risks of modern slavery, although companies with a turnover of more than £36m are required by law to take measures to eliminate it from their supply chains.

UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner Dame Sara Thornton said financial firms “are in urgent need of improving understanding of the risks of modern slavery”.

“Leadership must come from the top, and financial services must drive change in their industry, working with customers and investors to prevent this crime from happening,” she added.

The new study, published June 15, is part of a nine-month research program commissioned by Thornton and jointly led by Themis, a think tank, and Tribe Freedom Foundation, a charity.

Dickon Johnstone, Managing Director of Themis, said: “This research program asks how financial institutions are set up to prevent modern slavery. Are they directly or indirectly contributing to this problem, and what checks and balances do they have in place to monitor and mitigate their own business, customers and supply chains? This is an exciting initiative, and I invite all financial services institutions to get involved.

Tom Stancliffe, co-founder of Tribe, said Private equity news sister title Financial News that a full report with recommendations to better combat modern slavery will be published in July. The groups involved in the program will then consult with financial leaders through the end of the year, to help put the recommendations into action.

To contact the author of this story with comments or updates, email Ryan Weeks


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