The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC) is partnering with the University of Nottingham on a research project to tackle modern slavery in business supply chains.


The Global Slavery Index reports there to be 45.8 million slaves worldwide. Many of these slaves are in forced labour in the supply chains of businesses, working in sectors such as agriculture, mining and textiles.


Building on existing work taking place with IASC, the University’s Rights Lab will assess understandings of modern slavery in supply chains between supply chain managers and charities, with the aim of increasing the flow of knowledge between these key actors. Analysis of the results of this assessment will inform next steps for future research and policy implementation within business.


Speaking about the research, Dr Alexander Trautrims, an expert in supply chain management at Nottingham University Business School and the lead on the Right’s Lab Unchained Supply project, said: “New legislation, such as the Modern Slavery Act, and growing awareness of litigation and reputation risks, are strong motivators for companies to do better at keeping their supply chains slavery-free. But the length, complexity, and fragmented nature of international supply chains mean that conventional compliance-based approaches are unlikely to be effective.”


“Businesses and charities have much to learn from each other” says Kevin Hyland OBE, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. “This important project will create an avenue for discussion and dialogue that is crucial to combating modern slavery. This abhorrent abuse has no place in today’s economy. If businesses, charities and academics can better use each other’s resources and expertise, we will move another step closer to eliminating slavery from supply chains.”


The University of Nottingham is investing £200 million in the future of its research — picking out six beacons of excellence, of which the Rights Lab is one. Dr Trautrims leads the Rights Lab’s Unchained Supply project, which draws upon a pioneering programme of anti-slavery research to develop and test new solutions to the problem of slavery in supply chains.