California: a step forward in the fight against human trafficking
The state of California is pushing businesses to proactively combat human trafficking with the passage of Senate Bill 657. This Bill, also known as The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act, will require businesses to show the attempts being made to eradicate modern-day slavery from their supply chains. Not all businesses will be affected by S.B. 657, only businesses which gross (worldwide) over 100 million USD annually.
S.B. 657 requires disclosure on behalf of businesses in five areas. First, businesses must disclose to what extent they verify supply chains, including whether or not the verification is performed by a third party. Next, businesses will have to show to what extent audits are conducted on their suppliers, including whether the audits are announced or unannounced. Third, they must disclose to what extent certifications are obtained from suppliers proving all materials are compliant with state and/or federal laws. Fourth, businesses must show their maintenance of internal accountability and procedures. Lastly, businesses must disclose to what extent they train their employees directly involved with supply chain management.
In the past businesses in California (and elsewhere) have been scrutinized for their lack of human rights awareness. In response to this, former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed the approval of Senate Bill 657 last September (2010). The Bill was brought forward in a joint effort amongst Senator Steinberg, Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. The California Transparency in Supply Chains Act will go into effect January 1, 2012.
In the meantime, some companies have started to take early steps towards the implementation of Bill 657. UN.GIFT has already established contact with California-based global brands looking into train their staff on human trafficking using the e-learning tool.
"California is a vital point for the world economy. UN.GIFT welcomes the leadership that this American state has shown in the fight to end human trafficking," said Livia Wagner, private sector focal point of UN.GIFT. "We look forward to hearing from all companies. We want new partners in the global movement against trafficking."