Supply Chains

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About

The Problem

Every day, we are faced with the dilemma of knowing that so many of the things we buy -- our clothing, shoes, electronics, and even our food -- may be made by men, women, and children working in inhumane conditions, against their will. Human trafficking and severe forms of exploitation exist in the service sector, as well as during the harvesting of raw materials, the manufacturing of components, and the production or assembly of goods. Human trafficking is found in both international and domestic markets, in virtually every industry. In an emblematic tragedy in 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed in Bangladesh when they were forced to continue working in a dangerous, structurally unsound, 8-story building. As the building collapsed, the workers were unable to escape through locked doors.

The lack of transparency in a company’s supply chain impacts both consumers and corporations, as both are often unaware of the source of labor used in the goods and services they consume and procure. In addition, workers’ voices are rarely at the table when labor standards are established.

STATISTICS

The Solution

Ensuring transparent supply chains is the first step to eradicating goods and services made by forced labor from our marketplaces. Legitimate businesses can engage with subject matter experts to identify where they may be at risk for illicit activities in their supply chains and find opportunities to address human trafficking at scale. In addition, we must improve upon, and enforce existing laws and regulations, educate consumers about the realities of the problem, and develop guidelines and highlight best practices. In addition, companies should partner with workers in articulating workplace standards and codes of conduct.

Our Work In Action

The Business Supply Chain Transparency on Trafficking and Slavery Act of 2015 (H.R. 3226 and S.1968), introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Sen. Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Markey (D-MA), is one of Polaris’s top federal policy priorities. This bill would require large companies to disclose the measures they're taking to address forced labor and human trafficking within their supply chains and empower everyday consumers to make informed decisions about the companies they choose to support. We are working closely with members of Congress to build support for the passage of this legislation and advance fair, humane conditions for workers.

Photo credit: iStock

Latest News

Blog post

Eight Decades Later, Congress Closes Loophole that Allowed Slave-Made Products into the US

February 17, 2016

Last week, Congress took a significant step in keeping slave-made products out of the U.S.

Opinion Pieces

Huffington Post | Combating Human Trafficking in the Hotel Industry

July 22, 2015

By Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris

A teenage girl uses cash to rent a room with an older man. A housekeeper, who appears to be living on site, nervously averts eye contact when a guest approaches. A string of men enter and leave a particular room throughout the night, each staying for only 30 minutes at a time.

Polaris in the News

The Atlantic | All Your Clothes Are Made With Exploited Labor

June 3, 2015

Patagonia is an accredited and founding member of the Fair Labor Association; its website is as much an educational tool about environmental and social responsibility—filled with information on iss

Experts/Staff

Keeli Sorensen

Director of Programs