Biggest Australian Companies Ranked in Addressing Modern Slavery
(Bloomberg) -- Woolworths Group Ltd. and Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. are among the best Australian-listed companies at disclosing the risks of modern slavery in their supply chains, while IDP Education Ltd. and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp. are among the worst.
That’s the assessment of university researchers based on the first crop of company statements to the government since Australia created new laws to root out modern slavery. Monash University scored each firm out of 100, using criteria including supply-chain due diligence and remediation processes if the company finds slavery issues, according to a report published Monday.
It’s hoped the report will help businesses improve their practices and give investors tools to use to push for change. It’s an acute risk for Australian companies given that two thirds of the nearly 25 million people estimated to be in forced and debt bonded labor are believed to be in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the International Labour Organization.
The firms at the top of the list made managing slavery risks a priority and were transparent in how they deal with it, lead researcher Nga Pham said in a statement. The laggards were found wanting in their governance frameworks and discussed modern slavery in a general way without focusing of specific risks in their own business, the researchers found.
The government now requires some 3,000 companies that generate more than A$100 million ($75 million) in revenue in Australia -- from miners to banks and fund managers -- to assess and detail how they’re managing slavery risks within their supply chain and to outline steps taken to fix any issues.
The researchers said companies identified their biggest slavery risks to be around forced labor, child labor and debt bondage issues, all of which are problems in the Asia-Pacific where Australia sources most of its imports.
To be sure, it’s only the first year companies have had to benchmark their efforts against Australia’s new laws and the researchers “expect that majority of these companies will take action and improve their disclosure quality in the next financial year,” Pham said.
Firms with the largest supply chains provided higher quality disclosures and showed a history of continued effort to reduce risks, the report found.
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