Humanity United’s “Rethink Supply Chains” Challenge Could Help Eliminate Labor Trafficking

By Meghan Hampsey

The ILO reports there are 14.2 million victims of labor trafficking worldwide. In an effort to address this crime, Humanity United is partnering with the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, State, and Labor on an initiative to help companies protect their supply chains from forced labor called “Rethink Supply Chains.” It’s a competition challenging individuals and companies to propose a technological solution targeting one or more of the following areas:

  • Workers’ Voices: Tools that help workers to share information and foster community, access resources, and report labor violations to businesses, governments, NGOs, or each other in the most safe and secure way possible.
  • Recruitment: Tools to improve the transparency and accountability of the labor recruitment process, encourage responsible practices for employers and recruiters, and empower workers to more safely navigate the recruitment process.
  • Traceability: Technologies that enable businesses, workers, governments, and NGOs to track, map, and/or share information on commodities, products, and labor conditions in supply chains at high risk of forced labor.

The five finalists have received $20,000. The winner, yet to be announced, will receive an extra $250,000 and the runner-up will receive an additional $50,000. Proposals include tracing software to monitor labor conditions, modules that map forced labor sources as they are documented by laborers and supply chain leaders, and a mobile payment and feedback service that would hold companies accountable for their recruitment processes, working conditions, and fair wages.

This competition could be incredibly influential in disrupting the business of human trafficking at all levels, from recruitment to the final stage perpetrator. Finalist proposals highlight the need for transparency and accountability throughout global supply chains to increase the risks for perpetrators.

Businesses play a central role in the fight against modern slavery. It’s critical to incentivize industries to put policies and practices in place to avoid labor trafficking throughout supply chains. For instance, a mapping and communication module could help companies remediate instances of exploitative working conditions and help eliminate forced labor by increasing worker and corporate leader communication. Establishing feedback and payment platforms would give migrant workers the tools they need and increase transparency in the recruitment process, hopefully dismantling the system of recruitment fees and fraudulent contracts.

This competition exemplifies the value of business engagement and multi-sector cooperation in combatting labor trafficking. Together, they have the power to dismantle trafficking networks by adopting policies and practices that eradicate slavery from their supply chains. For more information on our recommendations to combat human trafficking, see our blueprint.


Published on February 11, 2016


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