According to the International Labour Organization, there are approximately 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, which includes men, women and children who have been coerced or deceived into jobs they are unable to leave voluntarily. Annually, forced labour in the private economy generates $150 billion in illegal profits.
BSI Supply Chain Services and Solutions recognized the lack of opportunity to counteract those alarming figures without means to track and identify risk factors. They compiled an impressive set of data communicating the likelihood of human trafficking sources and destinations specifically in supply chain slavery.
“We set out asking ourselves the question, ‘Can we predict the likelihood of an individual being trafficked from one country to another where they are likely to be exploited in the workplace?’,”
Ryan Lynch, the Head of Advisory & Corporate Social Responsibility at BSI Group says. “Along with that, we wanted to identify data that correlated with those country relationships.”
The flow of human trafficking tends to be steady from lower to higher income nations, as well as those with greater geographical proximity, and those that rank as higher risk on the BSI Forced Labor threat variable.
“If you’re looking for the overall highest risk countries—unrelated to potential source countries—then it misses the point,” Lynch explains. “The index is focused on the relationship between countries, as opposed to a static list of countries that are taken out of context of potential source countries,” Lynch says.
For instance, as seen above, Guatemala alone is the highest-rated country in terms of likely sourcing human trafficking to the U.S. Why wouldn’t Mexico have a higher likelihood, considering its proximity to the U.S.?
“Mexico is closer, but Guatemala is still relatively close enough to score high in the model,” Lynch explains. “In addition, Guatemala is poorer than Mexico, increasing the likelihood of economic migration. That said, they both still score high enough in the model that they are both considered as likely sources of trafficked labor to the U.S.”
In our analysis, we also found significant parallels between the Singapore, Brunei and Taiwan maps—Cambodia ranked as the highest likely sources for all three countries.
“Cambodia is a likely source to those countries for a few reasons,” Lynch explains. “First, it is significantly poorer than those countries, making it a more likely source of labor. In addition, we also factored proximity into the model. Other factors included our Forced Labor threat variable, as well as the disparity in net migration between Cambodia and the destination countries you mentioned.”
The tool provides users a means to target areas in which to “dig deeper,” Lynch says. “If you issue surveys to suppliers and uncover that the workforce is partially comprised of migrants from a high risk source, that’s a likely candidate to ask follow-up questions or to conduct an onsite assessment.”
By compiling information, formalizing analysis, and using the data to enhance a formalized risk management strategy, companies may be able to “prevent or mitigate risks that otherwise would have taken an organization by surprise,” Lynch explains. “Like many of the due diligence programs we develop, if you have the right information early in the process, and have a systematic way to respond and improve, you’re more likely to prevent or mitigate risks that otherwise would have taken an organization by surprise.”
As human rights ranks higher on the corporate agenda, it is important for risk management strategy to incorporate supply chain labor considerations using tools like the BSI Trafficking and Slavery Index, Lynch says. “An issue like supply chain slavery is so big and complex that many companies, even those with mature responsible sourcing programs, still struggle with how to address it.”