Tackling modern slavery: New white paper addresses the construction industry’s biggest blight

With modern slavery built into the fabric of global construction, experts and academics have come together to tackle the catalogue of human rights issues which plague the industry.

Professor Jacqui Glass, of Loughborough University’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, is campaigning to combat human rights abuses, outdated cultural approaches and unethical working practices.

Last week, she was involved in the publication of a white paper which sets out eight pathways to ethical and responsible sourcing for building contractors, clients, distributors and professional bodies.

The Action Programme on Responsible and Ethical Sourcing (APRES) white paper, published through building science centre BRE, aims to address issues such as modern slavery, which the Global Slavery Index estimates effects some 45.8 million people across 167 countries.

The white paper also hopes to bring to people’s attention other critical issues such as bribery, corruption, labour and workers’ rights and sustainable development, and advises ways to ensure ethical and proper practice.

Prof Glass, the APRES programme leader, said: “The idea of responsible and ethical sourcing is really taking hold in the construction and civil engineering sector.

“Our network, APRES, has helped to raise awareness and deliver industry-friendly guidance on this since 2010, so I am delighted we’ve been able to work with the BRE Trust to create this important new document.

“Put simply, the white paper is an eight-step guide to embedding best practice in your business – and is structured around very practical things you can do – starting from today.

“It’s been sense-checked by industry experts, and is free, easy to use, and apply in any type of organisation.”

The white paper identifies eight pathways from ‘baseline’ to ‘best practice’ in:

  • Organisation strategy and policies
  • Management systems
  • Assurance: compliance, auditing and reporting
  • Procurement and supply chain management practices
  • Financial management
  • HR, recruitment, staff training and development
  • Communications, external relations and PR
  • Innovation, best practice, continuous improvement

Dr Shamir Ghumra, Director Sustainable Products at BRE, the home of APRES, said: “Accountability is an absolute must for supply-chain excellence and sustainable procurement in the 21st century – the pressure from both public and commercial parties to demonstrate transparency and traceability is not going to go away.

“The APRES Eight Pathways Model holds the keys to progress and success.”

The white paper was built on the 2015 APRES ethical sourcing manifesto, which comprises of 10 Pledges to Align Industry Values with Business Ethics and Human Rights.

They are:

  1. Procure labour, materials, products and services only from organisations demonstrating and implementing zero tolerance to bribery and corruption
  2. Adopt the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Base Code and work collaboratively with all supply chain organisations on its implementation.
  3. Evaluate and address together the economic, social and environmental sustainability challenges and impacts of sourcing labour, materials, products and services
  4. Demonstrate a traceable and transparent supply chain for labour, materials, products and services
  5. Benefit the health, safety and wellbeing of all stakeholders including the natural environment
  6. Demonstrate materials are of legal origin
  7. Optimise social, environmental and economic impacts and opportunities of complex/manufactured products over their entire lifecycle
  8. Design, specify and procure materials, products and services with the greatest circular-economy benefits
  9. Design, specify and procure using credible and recognised responsible sourcing and certification schemes, where available
  10. Foster and communicate a business culture of openness, collaboration and accountability to achieve and demonstrate the principles of this Manifesto.

The APRES Eight Pathways Model will be presented at the 7th Annual APRES Conference to be held on 22 November 2017.

The sector-leading event, this year entitled ‘Risk & Responsibility: The Evolution of Supply Chain Data and Business Culture’, is sponsored by BSI and CARES and will be hosted at QEII Centre, Westminster, London.

Participants include Co-op, Debenhams, Skanska, and Canary Wharf Group.

For more information apres.bre.co.uk

A full copy of the paper is attached here, APRES.


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 17/126

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