On August 1, 2011, the Business Transparency on Trafficking & Slavery Act was introduced into the legislative process by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) as H.R. 2759. The bill received co-sponsorship by Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) – current Chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health and a very outspoken Congressman on the issue of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. His passion for this pressing issue is reflected in a session by the Subcommittee with regards to fighting human trafficking, and a public panel discussion on human trafficking organized by ATEST and the CNN Freedom Project. Further co-sponsors are Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).
In many ways, this bill resembles The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act – SB 657. It too, focuses on public disclosure of companies with regards to the extent of their activity in areas of best practice within a supply chain to eradicate human trafficking and slavery. There are, however a few differences between the Business Transparency on Trafficking & Slavery Act and SB 657 that should be highlighted:
- Being a federal bill, it shall apply to any entity with worldwide global receipts in excess of $100,000,000 that is a) publicly-traded or b) a private entity required to submit any annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
- An applicable entity shall report annually on its measures to “identify and address not only conditions of slavery and human trafficking, but also of forced labor and the worst forms of child labor within the entity’s supply chains. Definitions of “forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor” as well as “supply chain” are provided in the bill.
- The bill mandates additional disclosure topics:
- Existence of actual policies,
- Outcome and methodology of verification activities,
- Assessments of management and procurement systems of suppliers,
- Auditing of labor recruiters and the results of such audits, and
- Remediation in cases of identified forced labor, slavery, human trafficking, and the worst forms of child labor. The definition for remediation is provided.
It also covers all the disclosure requirements of SB 657, but again with a focus not only on slavery and human trafficking, but also on forced labor and the worst forms of child labor. These requirements are engagement in 1) 3rd party verification (definition provided), 2) independent and unannounced audits, 3) supplier certification, 4) training to those with direct responsibility for supply chain management, and 5) maintenance of internal accountability standards.
- Not only shall the disclosure be made public through SEC channels, but applicable entities shall also disclose the information on their Internet homepage with a link labeled “Policies to Address Forced Labor, Slavery, Human Trafficking and the Worst Forms of Child Labor.”
Another significant difference between SB 657 and the Business Transparency on Trafficking & Slavery Act is private sector support for the bill. Missing at the introduction of SB 657, the new federal bill has received public support from Compass Group, a food-services firm and the “11th-largest private employer in the world” according to the press release from Rep. Maloney’s office.
It will remain to be seen whether the bill comes to pass, but with bipartisan and private sector sponsorship, and SB 657 at its back, this federal bill already stands on solid ground.
For more information on Supply Chain Transparency visit our Responsible Sourcing California Transparency page. Also note that STR Responsible Sourcing is hosting two vendor-targeted seminars on slavery and human trafficking in Hong Kong and Shanghai. To receive future communication on this topic and weekly news on corporate social responsibility sign up for The Responsible Source.