Fighting modern slavery with ethical procurement

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This piece was produced in collaboration with CIPS

In a guide produced in collaboration with Traidcraft and the Walk Free Foundation, CIPS defines ethical procurement (also known as responsible procurement) as procurement that respects fundamental international standards against criminal activity including bribery, corruption, fraud and modern slavery. 

The Walk Free Foundation estimates that roughly 30 million people live in slavery today in a number of sectors, countries and cultures around the world. 

 Effective procurement professionals are not only able to spot signs of unethical practices in their supply chains, but they are also capable of acting immediately to eradicate these practices and create improvement in the lives of those in their supply chain. Holders of the MCIPS certificate understand that they must not only walk away from any corrupt practices, but that they must take action to free those enslaved in the supply chain. 

Sustainable procurement includes the environmental, social and economic consequences of the design, materials, production methods, logistics and disposal techniques. Attention to detail ensures the security of an organisation’s supply chains and, ultimately, its goods and services. 

Though most are affected somewhere along the supply chain, some sectors appear to be more susceptible to disagreeable practices: electronics, steel and cars, agriculture and seafood, minerals, garments and textiles. 

Though modern day slavery is illegal around the world, it still exists in every country in the world and is prevalent in places where workers have fewer rights and protection, where there are high levels of poverty, where there is widespread use of migrant workers and in high-risk industries, such as raw material production and the labour-intensive stages of a supply chain with the production of cheaper products.

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