Modern slavery, and the associated trafficking of its victims, is currently one of the most challenging human rights abuses both in the U.S. and abroad. Forced labor occurs when individuals work involuntarily as a result of one or more coercive measures such as debt bondage, restriction of movement, threat of harm, fraudulent recruitment, and financial inability to return home. On any given day, it is estimated that over 20 million individuals globally, the majority female, are victims of this epidemic.
There are numerous NGO, UN, and state responses to this problem, many of which call on companies to conduct appropriate due diligence in their supply chains to prevent the use of forced or child labor. One of the most recent directives—the U.K. Modern Slavery Act (MSA)—requires companies operating in the U.K. to publish a statement outlining their efforts to prevent forced labor in their operations and supply chains. GE published its first MSA statement in May 2017, providing a detailed description of our approach to this important challenge. Please see our full MSA statement here. Specifically, it describes GE’s strong policies prohibiting forced or child labor in its operations and those of its suppliers, its extensive supply chain audit program with enhanced training for auditors on signs of forced labor, and its collaborations with initiatives such as the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, whose goal is to eliminate the “original sin” of forced labor—the charging of recruitment fees to workers that bind them to their jobs and gut their pay. It will take the combined efforts of states, businesses, and civil society to address successfully this devastating problem.
For other details on our approach, see Supply Chain Monitoring and Evaluation, our California Transparency in Supply Chain Act disclosure and our Supplier Expectations Statement.